Rites of Passage: Germination of Vertebrate Dispersed, Regurgitated or Defecated Phoenix canariensis Seeds

Dirk H R Spennemann, Melissa Pike


Canary Island Date Palms are widely planted as ornamental plants in private and public spaces. As both prolific and long-duration seeders, their drupes provide food for a range of volant and terrestrial vertebrates. This study experimentally examined the germination of vertebrate digested seeds. Whereas seeds in Flying- fox spat did not yield a higher germination rate than undigested controls, seeds that had passed through the gastro-intestinal tract and were deposited in scats, or those that were ingested and regurgitated from the crop, have a significantly better probability of germinating. This establishes Pied Currawongs as effective short-range dispersers and canid frugivores, such as the Red Fox, as major medium- and long-distance vectors of ornamental palms.

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