Natural Fecundity and Germination Characteristics of Selected Cyclopia (Honeybush) Species: Preliminary Findings

  •  Mlamuli Motsa    
  •  Cecilia Bester    
  •  Margaretha Slabbert    
  •  Mzabalazo Ngwenya    
  •  Mardé Booyse    


Cyclopia Vent. (honeybush) is a South African herbal tea legume endemic to the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa. At present, knowledge of reproductive fitness (fecundity) between cultivated and undomesticated Cyclopia species is scant. Cultivated genotypes of C. genistoides (L.) R.Br. and C. subternata Vogel were evaluated for their potential to produce fruit and seeds in different localities spanning two years. Fecundity and germination were also determined from natural environment of each species and compared to cultivated species in order to determine the variation between species and between cultivated and non-cultivated species. Seeds collected were weighed to determined seed mass and evaluated for germination rate and cumulative germination per individual site. A fifth of flowers developing into a pod, averaged more initiated and filled seeds per pod in C. subternata than C. genistoides. Germination percentage was directly proportional to rate of germination in both species. Cyclopia subternata had a higher fecundity and germination than C. genistoides in both cultivated and natural environments. The study results assist in the further improvement of the genus through breeding new cultivars for seed with desired qualities for improving commercial characteristics; planning of seed orchards for seed production, selecting of best sites, assisting in choosing progenies for seed production and rehabilitation of degraded sites for the sustainable production of honeybush.

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