After developing seeds reach physiological maturity, they either proceed to desiccate (orthodox seeds), germinate on the plant (vivipary), or bypass complete desiccation (recalcitrant seeds).

Recalcitrant seeds lose viability after drying.

Species that have recalcitrant seeds include temperate species like maple, elm and oak, tropical species like citrus and coffee and aquatic species like wild rice.

Graph showing germination percentage of pawpaw in comparison with moisture content percentage.

Pawpaw is a good example of a recalcitrant species. It begins to lose viability soon after desiccation drying occurs. At 25 percent moisture, over half of the seed lot is dead. Because recalcitrant species do not tolerate drying, they are also short-lived in storage.