School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences Faculty Publications and Presentations

Document Type


Publication Date



The Tamaulipan thornforests of south Texas and northeast Mexico are an ecologically and economically important conservation hotspot. Thornforest restoration is limited by native tree and shrub seedling availability for planting. Seedling shortages arise from low seed availability and knowledge gaps regarding best practices for germinating and growing the 70+ thornforest species desired for restoration plantings. To fill key knowledge gaps, we investigated three ecologically important thornforest species with low or highly variable germination or seedling survival rates: Ebenopsis ebano, Cordia boissieri, and Zanthoxylum fagara. For each, we quantified the effects of different dosages of chemical seed treatments used to promote germination (sulfuric acid, SA; gibberellic acid, GA; indole-3-butyric acid, IBA) on germination likelihood and timing. We also quantified the effects that these chemical seed treatments, soil media mixture type, and soil warming had on seedling survival, growth, and root morphology. Ebenopsis germination peaked (>90%) with 40–60 min SA treatment. Cordia germination peaked (40%) with 100 mg/L GA treatment. Zanthoxylum germination was negligible across all treatments. Seed molding was rare but stirring during SA treatment reduced Ebenopsis molding by 4%. Ebenopsis seedling survival, height, leaf count, and root morphology were minimally affected by seed treatments, generally reduced by warming, and influenced by soil mix, which also mediated responses to warming. These results suggest improvements to existing practices that could increase Ebenopsis germination by 10–20% and potentially double Cordia germination.


© 2021 by the authors

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Publication Title





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.