American burnweed is an increasingly common annual weed in wild blueberry fields in Atlantic Canada and Maine. Knowledge of seed dormancy characteristics and potential for this species to form persistent seedbanks in wild blueberry soils, however, is lacking. A series of experiments were therefore conducted to investigate potential mechanisms regulating American burnweed seed dormancy in wild blueberry fields. Seeds were dormant at maturity and did not germinate in dark or light under warm conditions. Cold moist stratification (CMS) at 4 C for 90 d followed by exposure to warm conditions (22/15 C day/night) and light caused >90% germination, and germination was generally maximized following 80 d CMS. Exogenous potassium nitrate applied as a 5% solution did not stimulate germination, but nearly all seeds (>95%) germinated following treatment with 200, 400, 600, or 800 ppm (w/v) gibberellic acid (GA3) solution. Physical removal of the seed coat or seed exposure to short durations of dry heat did not increase germination. Seed exposure to 1 s of direct flame increased germination, but germination was low relative to germination following CMS and treatment with GA3. Based on these results, we conclude that American burnweed seeds in wild blueberry fields exhibit non–deep physiological dormancy that is most readily broken by CMS and light or seed treatment with GA3. Seeds will likely be exposed to favorable conditions for breaking dormancy (cold temperatures and light) in wild blueberry fields due to lack of tillage and seed burial, indicating high potential for this weed species to proliferate in wild blueberry fields if not properly managed.
Nomenclature: American burnweed, Erechtites hieraciifolius (L.) Raf. ex DC. EREHI; wild blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.