Temperature and water potential are two important environmental factors influencing germination and subsequent seedling establishment. Seed germination requirements vary with species and with the environment in which the seeds are produced. Stipa species dominate large areas of the Eurasian zonal vegetation, but comparisons of germination requirements between Stipa species from different habitats is limited. We investigated the effects of temperature and water potential on seed germination of S. grandis, S. purpurea, and S. penicillata from habitats with low temperatures and relatively abundant rainfall (cool habitats) and S. glareosa, S. breviflora, S. gobiea, and S. bungeana from habitats with relatively high temperatures and low amount of rainfall (warm habitats). Seeds of species from cool habitats had a higher base (Tb), optimal (To), and maximum (Tc) temperature than those of species from warm habitats, except for the base temperature of S. purpurea. Response of six tested Stipa species to water potential differed among species but not between habitats. Median water potential for germination was lowest for S. bungeana, S. penicillata, and S. gobiea. There was a negative correlation between hydrotime constant (θH) and base water potential for 50% of the seeds of all species to germinate (ψb(50)). Germination time of seven Stipa species in response to temperature and water was well predicted by thermal time and hydrotime models. Results of the present study on germination of these seven species of Stipa may provide useful suggestions for grassland restoration in different habitats.

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Published in Frontiers in Plant Science, v. 11, article 560714.

© 2020 Zhang, Luo, Chen, Baskin, Baskin, Wang and Hu.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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This study was supported by the National Key R & D Program of China (2017YFC0504603), the Gansu Provincial Science and Technology Major Projects (19ZD2NA002), the National Natural Science Fund (31672473) , and Gansu Provincial Science and Technology Program (18JR2TA023).