RAPID VIABILITY TEST—A TOOL TO AID CONSERVATION EFFORTS IN <em>ZANTHOXYLUM</em> <em>RHETSA</em>
Keywords:Germination test, seed viability, germination percentage
Zanthoxylum rhetsa is a dioecious forest tree species with significant commercial value, due to its diverse culinary and pharmaceutical uses. The fruits and seeds are part of cuisine in many countries of South Eastern Asia, and it has global relevance as a component of diverse pharmaceutical products. It occurs in wild forest habitat and is facing the threat of getting endangered, due to commercial exploitation and loss of habitat. The situation warrants intervention through extensive conservation efforts for sustaining and enhancing its population. The successful establishment of Z. rhetsa tree population depends on the availability of high quality seeds, with superior growth potential. Low seed viability and vigour are pertinent issues in this species because the bulk harvest of the fruits is preferentially carried out prior to harvest maturity, for commercial use. A pre-sowing assessment of seed viability and vigour would facilitate assured plant establishment by screening out the large number of immature or deteriorated seeds. Standard seed viability assessment protocols require more than four weeks, hence, a quick viability testing protocol will be a highly beneficial tool for conservation efforts of Z. rhetsa. In this study, a rapid testing protocol viz., treatment of 1% TTZ at 35 oC with a soaking duration of 24 hours, was identified as the standard protocol for quick viability testing of Z. rhetsa seeds.