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Life-History Studies of the Perennial Geophyte Haemanthus pubescens L. Subspecies Pubescens (Amaryllidaceae) in Lowland Coastal Fynbos, South Africa

C. Ruiters, B. McKenzie and L. M. Raitt
International Journal of Plant Sciences
Vol. 154, No. 3 (Sep., 1993), pp. 441-449
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2995663
Page Count: 9
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Life-History Studies of the Perennial Geophyte Haemanthus pubescens L. Subspecies Pubescens (Amaryllidaceae) in Lowland Coastal Fynbos, South Africa
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Abstract

Aspects of the life history of a hysteranthous geophyte, Haemanthus pubescens ssp. pubescens, were examined in the fire-prone Mediterranean climate zone of South Africa. A population age profile was constructed after determining the actual age of 783 plants by using leaf-base counts. Subsets were also examined so that developmental stages, phenology, and flowering patterns could be analyzed and used to determine age states for the population. The juvenile period of the species spans 9 yr. The young reproductive period includes ages 10-13. Reproductive maturity peaked at 16 yr. Plants older than 17 yr showed a marked reduction in reproductive potential. These age states indicated that the life-history strategy in terms of age states was similar to that of other fynbos plants and showed remarkable synchronization with the suggested fire frequency of ca. 15-20 yr for this area. The phenological study indicated that the species is well adapted to the putative fire season. Flowers are only produced toward the end of the fire season, and leaves appear only in the cooler, wetter months when fires are unlikely to occur. Seeds are not dormant and germinate on the soil surface at the start of the cool, wet season.

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