• To explore what method yields the highest germination percentage for seeds of Iva frutescens
  • To determine the viability percentage of Iva frutescens seeds using tetrazolium chloride
  • To determine if Petasites frigidus var. palmatus could be propagated through rhizome cuttings 

Seeds of Iva frutescens were collected at the Wolfville mud flats. Seeds were placed into germination trays to test germination rates. The seeds were tested for seed viability using tetrazolium chloride, a chemical that will turn the embryo red/pink when the seeds are viable and respiring. Rhizomes of Petasites frigidusvar. palmatus were cut off from the mother plant and placed into pots for propagation. 

Charlie Banks

Charlie is a third-year biology student and completed this project for Biology 3413 Research Topics. Charlie says he became interested in conservation and restoration of salt marshes last semester when he took the Biology 3293 Flora of Nova Scotia course, taught by E.C. Smith Herbarium and Irving Biodiversity Collections Manager, Alain Belliveau. Charlie says “My future plans are to apply to dentistry school, but my main interests are in plant biology. I enjoy doing research because I get to do hands-on work, as well as learn new things. It makes me feel like I can contribute to restoration and conservation efforts. I love doing research at the Irving Centre because it has a huge greenhouse with beautiful plant collections as well as the herbarium, which is home to thousands of plant and fungi specimens!”

The goal of Charlie’s research project was to investigate how to propagate two native Nova Scotia plant species. Iva frutescens (maritime marsh-elder) is a native species of salt marsh shrub that is currently limited to Yarmouth and the Minas Basin in Nova Scotia. Although it is found in Nova Scotia and along the East Coast down to Texas, it is not distributing itself throughout the salt marshes of Nova Scotia. Petasites frigidus var. palmatus (arctic sweet coltsfoot) is a relatively rare species, native to Nova Scotia. It produces seeds but it reproduces more commonly through asexual division via underground rhizomes. Both species could potentially become species at risk in the future, so it is important that we study these species and their ecological importance.

Click here to view Charlie’s research poster