Aspirin shown to help native grasses grow on restored land

Aspirin shown to help native g...
Some of the grass seedlings that were grown from salicylic-acid-coated seeds
Some of the grass seedlings that were grown from salicylic-acid-coated seeds
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Some of the grass seedlings that were grown from salicylic-acid-coated seeds
Some of the grass seedlings that were grown from salicylic-acid-coated seeds

When restoring former industrial or agricultural land back to its natural state, it's vitally important to reestablish ground cover plants such as native grasses. According to a new study, the addition of aspirin helps those grasses grow.

The medication that we know as aspirin is actually the synthetic form of a natural compound called salicylic acid, which is found in willow tree bark and in other plants. Previous studies have shown that it boosts stress resistance in agricultural plants like tomatoes, making them hardier.

Led by Dr. Simone Pedrini, scientists at Australia's Curtin University recently set out to see if the compound would have a similar effect on wild plants. To that end, they coated the seeds of three native grasses – Austrostipa scabra, Microlaena stipoides and Rytidosperma geniculatum – with "very low concentrations" of salicylic acid.

Subsequent field tests were performed at a farm in the state of Western Australia, a region where all three grasses occur naturally. When compared to control crops grown from non-coated seeds, it was found that the survival and growth rates of seedlings grown from the coated seeds were significantly higher.

"Further research is now needed to test salicylic acid as a coating in other wild species to improve native plant resistance to drought, extreme temperatures, salinity, pathogens, and herbicides," says team member Prof. Kingsley Dixon. "Moreover, coating with salicylic acid in combination with other beneficial compounds should be tested on a broader array of plant species used in restoration, as their combined impact on seed germination, emergence, growth and plant establishment could improve the successful deployment of native seed onto degraded landscapes."

The research is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Source: Curtin University

Khoo Kian Kok
Regrarians Ltd.
G'day there,

I don't know that the use of salicylic acid as a germination treatment is novel at all—people have been soaking all manner of seeds in willow (Salix sp.) and poplar (Populus sp.) wood chips (in a water solution) for decades or more.

Nonetheless it may well be a novel treatment when used with a few Australian native grass species.

Our colleague JuanFran Lopez also has a treatment which uses legume, cereal or grass seeds (or a mix of these) with untreated water in which he sprouts these seeds, crushes them and then mixes them at a ratio of 500g seed:2 litres water and then applies this liquid to seeds to be sown or as root dip or potting soil spray.


Darren J. Doherty, CPAg (AIA)
Regrarians Ltd. (AU)
I imagine somebody at Bayer Agricultural is getting scolded right about now.
We have used willow twigs a rooting hormone for rooting plants for years.
Would appreciate some hints as of how and why Aspirin can do this ? On hypothesis level.