Resource Details

Storage, Tropical Tree Seed Manual

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Hong, T.D. and Ellis, R.H. 2002, “Storage” in Tropical Tree Seed Manual, ed. J.A. Vozzo, USDA Forest Service, Washington DC, pp. 125-136.


  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service
  • Department of Agriculture, The University of Reading, U.K.


Available at no cost



  • This chapter reviews literature on seed storage, including seed survival, storage environment, storage duration, and species specific requirements, with a focus on tree seeds.
  • The authors note that much of what is known about seed storage has not yet been tested or described for forest tree seeds.
  • Seed storage behavior is classified based on desiccation tolerance and/or response to environment, and the authors describe 3 discrete categories in the context of these classifications: orthodox seed storage behavior, recalcitrant seed storage behavior, intermediate seed storage behavior.
  • Orthodox seed longevity increases as seed storage moisture content and temperature decrease.  Longevity varies significantly in open storage.  Usually, it is more efficient to reduce seed moisture content than to lower temperature to achieve the same storage life.
  • Recalcitrant seeds are damaged by drying, and the critical moisture content below which seeds lose viability varies greatly among species.  Thus, recalcitrant seeds cannot be stored for long periods (usually not more than a few months).
  • Recalcitrant seeds must be stored at a moisture level similar to the level present when they were dropped from their tree, and oxygen must be available.
  • Seeds with intermediate seed storage behavior can withstand some drying, though the amount of drying tolerated before viability is lost is dependent upon moisture content requirements of species.
  • Other factors influencing the viability of seeds include the initial seed quality, stage of maturation, and initial exposure after collection to conditions favorable for germination.
  • The authors suggest consideration of at least 4 the following 6 factors to predict seed storage behavior: plant ecology; taxonomic classification; plant, fruit, or seed characteristics; seed size; seed moisture content at shedding; and seed shape.

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