Lindera melissifolia seed bank study in a lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley bottomland forest
Lindera melissifolia (Walter) Blume, or pondberry, is federally listed as an endangered shrub and grows in warm, humid lowland forests of seven states in the southeastern United States. The dioecious plants usually form clonal colonies as a result of rhizome sprouting. Although L. melissifolia can annually produce many bright red spicy scented drupes, information on reproduction of the species is limited to its clonal regenerative capabilities. We examined the survival of L. melissifolia seeds held within bags for up to 1 y in a soil seed bank. Half of the bags were buried and the other half left on the soil surface. Additionally, bags contained seeds either with the oily fruit pulp removed or with drupes left intact. Results indicated that the presence or absence of the pulp does not significantly affect seed survival. However,the viability of buried seeds was greater than 50% by the end of 1 y, whereas over 70% of the seeds left on the surface were rotten or missing. Buried seeds were seven times more likely to produce seedlings in the field than those left on the soil surface. Because L. melissifolia seedlings are not often observed in naturally occurring populations despite the production of viable seeds, it is likely that environmental conditions or other biotic factors limit the field distribution and sustainability of seedlings.