SOME ASPECTS OF THE BIOLOGY AND ECOLOGY OF Senna occidentalis (L.) Link AROUND AWKA, ANAMBRA STATE

Author: Okolie Christopher Uche
Department: Botany
Affiliation: Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka

This study was carried out to determine the best seed treatment option that favours the optimal germination of the seeds of Senna occidentalis L. The study was also conducted to establish its life cycle characteristics, fruiting and seeding potentials, abundance of the plant in its natural sites and the species diversity of the sampled sites in the study area. Germination trials were carried out using treatments such as mechanical scarification, soaking in concentrated tetraoxosulphate (VI) acid at different times, and heating at varying degrees of temperature at different times. Phenological and morphological investigations were carried out on weekly basis on the plants after the germination of the seeds sown in bags outside the laboratory. At maturity, the number of pods per plant, the number of seeds per pod and the number of seeds per plant were obtained. A quadrat measuring 1 m2 was used in sampling for abundance of the plant and its associated species. The Shannon- Wiener Index of diversity was adopted to determine the species diversity of the sampled sites. The study revealed that light mechanical abrasion with sandpaper and soaking in the acid for 10 minutes yielded the best percentage of germination (80-100%). Phenological and morphological investigations showed that germination occurred after four days of sowing the seeds in the bags. The first leaf was formed on the third day after germination and the first floral bud was observed at week 14 after planting. The first fruit was formed at week 16 after planting. At maturity, the plant attained a maximum height of 158+0.27 cm at week 25, mean number of internodes of the main stem of 56.0, a mean number of primary branches of 7.4+ 0.24. Ranges of 6137-7398 seeds per plant and 134-161 pods per plant were recorded at maturity. Ecological sampling revealed that the plant is not abundant in the study area. The sites where S. occidentalis existed had more plant species than the sites where the plant did not exist. Because the plant is not so abundant in the study area, its high seeding potential combined with the best seed treatment option could be harnessed in cultivating the plant to ensure that the plant does not disappear from our ecosystem.

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