Table 1. Results of one way analysis of variance (ANOVA) for germination tests
Mean of squares
Recalcitrant seeds are not equally desiccation sensitive in that variable degrees of dehydration
are tolerated depending on the species. The difference in desiccation sensitivity might occur
even with the same species of different seed lots. Berjak and Pammenter (2003) affirmed there
might be conflicting reports concerning responses of recalcitrant seeds to desiccation of
particular harvest or for the conditions for which the particular experiments were conducted.
Girma Balcha (2000) also explained that change in environmental conditions during
development on the parent plants might bring variation in seed storage condition between seed
lots of the same species
M oisture content (%)
Figure 3. Germination percentage of the seeds of S. guineense after desiccation to different levels of
The drying rate applied was slow drying under ambient conditions in the shade. Most seeds
lost their viability when dried below 37% moisture content. 37% moisture content was
achieved after two weeks and the moisture content decreased to 32% after four weeks with
16% germination percentage. The seeds lost their viability totally after nine weeks (Fig. 4).
Berjak and Pammenter (2003) explained that irrespective of the drying rate, there is an absolute
lower limit below which recalcitrant seeds loss their viability. Seeds of S. guineense
desiccated faster in an open air in a natural environment of the species. Therefore, it can be
concluded that under natural conditions the seeds of this species lost their viability faster
before the rainy season which limits the natural regeneration. Pritchard et al
. (2004) pointed
out that seed desiccation sensitivity is potentially a high-risk for regeneration strategy of plants
because a prolonged dry spell at the time of seed shedding could result in the death of an entire
of annual seeds.
Moisture content (%)
Figure 4. Germination percentages of seeds of S. guineense after storage at different moisture content for
There was also heavy fungal proliferation in this germination experiment as seeds subjected to
desiccation starting from 37% moisture content. Dehydration of recalcitrant seeds induces
intracellular damage which inurn resulted in death of seeds. Proliferation of fungus can
indicate the death of seeds as they get dehydrated. Most authors reported this problem in a
germination experiment of recalcitrant seeds. Baxter et al. (2004) and Omondi (2004) reported
the proliferation of fungus in germination experiment of S. guineense and S. cuminii
4.2 Ethnobotany of S. guineense
4.2.1 Local name and uses of S. guineense
The plant species is locally known by the name “Badeessaa.” in Oromo language and
“Dokma” in Amharic language in the study area. The local names of plants have direct
references to special botanical or utilizable features of the plants (Zemede Asfaw and Mesfin
Tadesse, 2001). The local people explained that the name “Badeessaa” came because of the
fact that fruit discolors the teeth making it brownish when eaten and the fruit is edible both
during food shortages and at the normal times. According to the discussion the flowering time
starts in February and fruiting time in March. As reported by the local community in this study,
the fruit is edible by all age groups and also means of income generation as it is sold at the
Studies elsewhere have shown that S. guineense is the most common edible fruit bearing
species in most parts of Ethiopia. In an ethnobotanical studies of wild edible plants in two
districts of South Ethiopia Kebu Balemie and Fassil Kebebew (2006) reported that S.
is one of the highly prized edible fruit bearing species. The field guide on Ethiopian
famine foods classified the species as a wild food plant with famine food. In addition to the
fruit, the young leaves are used as cooked vegetables in food shortage periods
(http:www.telecom.net.et/˜ undp-eue/ famine food web/). Zemede Asfaw and Mesfin Tadesse
(2001) also categorize the fruit as a famine food.
Focus group discussants argued that the tree is mostly used for construction of houses, fuel
wood, timber, Charcoal making, beehive hanging, fences and making furniture (Fig. 5).
According to the informants’ explanation, the tree is very strong and not attacked by termites
which makes preferable for construction of houses and fences. In addition, the flowers of S.
are a very good source of quality honey as the informants argued.
Uses of the plant
Figure 5. Local uses of S. guineense in Regi, West Arsi Zone of Oromia Region
also has aesthetic value in the study area. As w/ro Waritie, one of the informants
claimed there was high traditional value for this plant. As it is explained by the respondents,
they chopped the wood and fire it to produce smoke. The smoke bath used to make the skin
soft and clean especially hands and legs of elders and married women. W/ro Waritie said “That
was our soap and our perfume for its scent when we use the smoke to clean our skin”.
According to the respondents of the interview, in addition to its function for beauty the smoke
bath also gives medicinal value and used it as a smoke bath and this is what they have been
doing for centuries. They used to treat what they call “Berd Beshita” Health problem resulting
from cold air current as they believed. The medicinal value of the plant has been reported also
by Tigist Wondimu et al. (2006).
4.2.2 Threats to S. guineense
Besides its use, there are different factors which threaten the plant status in Reri peasant
association. Most of the respondents recognized the considerable destruction of the natural
vegetation. They pointed out that there is high degree of exploitation of the plant for different
purposes. They were also able to identify the factors considered as threats and rated
agricultural expansion and selective cutting for construction material as the principal threats to
(Table 3). Vivero, (2001-02) argued that the major reasons for high rate of forest
clearing in most forest areas is the increasing intensive use of land for agricultural and
livestock production. According to the author tree cutting for fuel wood and construction
materials also mentioned as major causes for deforestation.
Table 2. Local peoples' perception of factors threatening S. guineense in Regi, West Arsi Zone of Oromia
Number of Respondents
Percentages of total
Lose of traditional value
Eradication of wild animals 43
In addition to its direct exploitation, loss of traditional values and eradication of wild animals
were also mentioned as a threat for the species conservation indirectly. According to W/ro
Wolla one of the informants, there was special protection for its traditional use. They gave
special concern just to have that plant around their home because of its function. But now the
present generation substitutes such values with industrial products like soap and perfume. In
addition there is no awareness raising activities for its traditional values. So the present
generation gave less attention to conserve this plant.
Eradication of wild animals has been also mentioned as a threat for the plant species. Since the
fruits are large birds and other animals used to feed on them which facilitate germination of
seeds. However, nowadays since forest lands are changed to farm lands wild animals have
been eradicated from the area which hinders the distribution of the fruits as the informants
The informants explained by saying that population is growing from time to time which
imposes high risk of deforestation in general and it is high threat to forests and trees like S.
with hard wood in particular. They further explained that large forest areas have
been changed to farm lands. As a result, trees have been seen as an isolated tree left in farm
lands. According to the discussion, what is observed under the trees just after fruiting time is
the decayed fruits rather than much seedlings. The fruits fall and decay under canopies which
limit natural regeneration of the species. As it is observed in this research finding, seeds have
been died as they get dehydrated. There might be similar phenomenon in the natural
environment and the decay of the seeds might be due to the dehydration of seeds.
Removal of forest cover reduces moisture of the soil. Recalcitrant seeds shed under such
conditions die because they cannot tolerate dry spell. There might be also fungal infection as
recalcitrant seeds dried. Anguelova-Methar et al. (2003) pointed out that role of microflora and
particularly, of fungal species is emerging as an important factor in determining seed lifespan.
As it is mentioned by the respondents, even if seedlings observed under fruiting trees most die
and do not transplant well. This makes the regeneration of species impossible according to
their views. The cause for death of seedlings might be due to prolonged dry season for them to
bear healthy condition.
4.2.3 Conservation status of S. guineense
According to the views of the local community, there has been continuous deforestation
scenario. Ninety six percent (out of 135) respondents respond that the status of the species has
become worst compared to the condition before 10 years (Table 4).
Table 3 Local people’s perception about conservation status of S. guineense in Regi, West Arsi zone of
Number of respondents
Percentage of total
Better than 10 years before
The same as 10 years before 4
Worse 10years before
Indigenous knowledge of local communities can be used for identification of priority species
for conservation (Zemede Asfaw, 2006). As the local people claimed, most wild species like
, Prunus africana and S. guineense have no protection in the study area
and there are also no conservation initiatives like seedling provision. The plants have been
cleared without any initiation for reforestation.
is one of the species being exploited for its uses in most forests of Ethiopia. In a
study made on the change of vegetation structure of five important species including S.
in Jibat forest Elias Taye (2004) reported the worst stage of deforestation through
selective cutting. The result of this ethnobotanical study has shown that S. guineense is one of
the species which needs urgent conservation implementation in the study area.
5. Conclusion and recommendations
Investigation of desiccation sensitivity of seeds has shown that S. guineense seeds are very
sensitive to desiccation. The germination percentage has been decreased as moisture content
reduced with abrupt loss of viability below 37% moisture content. The viability of the seeds
lost totally relatively as high moisture content level.
Desiccation sensitivity is generally accepted as obvious feature of identifying storage behaviors
of seeds. However, conclusions based on desiccation tolerance alone particularly in cases
where investigations are limited to a single seed lot can sometimes be wrong. Investigations of
seed survival during storage in different temperature gradients should be followed for complete
determination of storage behavior. If storage temperature gradient was considered, the result
would be even better. Furthermore, there was fungal proliferation as moisture content reduced.
Therefore, it might be difficult to draw conclusions based on the current data. To ascertain the
lowest safe moisture content for the given species it is important to inactivate or eliminate
Besides, S. guineense is being threatened with high degree of exploitation in the study area.
The plant has been cleared due to agricultural expansion and for construction purposes. The
removal of forest cover indirectly hinders natural regeneration. Recalcitrant seeds shed in open
lands are subjected to dry situation which resulted in death of seeds.
In view of the result of germination study and ethnobotany on S. guineense, some suggestions
that may go in the direction of minimizing the threats on this species and other similar once
included the following.
To determine storage category with certainty, desiccation screening test should be
followed with viability test at different temperature regime and different storage
Research should be done to find suitable alternative methods of conservation such as
Studies on the mortality of seedlings of S. guineense would be important to understand
the regeneration capacity of the species.
Indigenous knowledge of the local community on traditional values of the plant should
In- situ conservation should be given higher priority to conserve trees with recalcitrant
seed like S. guineense
in their natural ecosystem.
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