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Mountain Ash:
Germination

Germination

Mountain Ash seeds on finger
Mountain Ash seeds on finger
Source - Museum Victoria
Mountain Ash seeds and gumnuts
Mountain Ash seeds and gumnuts
Source - Museum Victoria

Wildfire vaporises the leaves and kills the Mountain Ash trees but does not burn capsules in the crown that hold seeds; the rapid passing of fire probably protects the capsules.

Mountain Ash only regenerates from the seed that drops out of the crown after a fire. In a good flowering year, there could be as many as 14 million seeds/ha in the forest crown. An estimated 200,000-250,000 fertile seeds/ha is dropped each year and 60% of this seed fall is harvested by ants; there is no soil storage of seed.

Without a fire, the few seeds that do germinate do not survive because they succumb to low light levels, fungal infection, insect attack and marsupial browsing.

After a wildfire, there is an enormous seed drop which swamp the seed-harvesting ants and lygaeid bugs. The seeds germinate in the nutrient rich, sunlight-flooded ash bed.


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