University of Florida

Hector E. Perez

Associate Professor

Environmental Horticulture Dept.
University of Florida
Rm. 103 Bldg. 550, PO Box 110675
Gainesville FL 32611-0675

Phone: (352) 273-4503
Fax: (352) 273-4592
Curriculum Vitae

Lab page - coming soon

Professional Background


  • Ph.D. Horticulture with a Ecology, Evolution, & Conservation Biology Specialization (Univ. Hawaii), 2006
  • M.S. Environmental Horticulture (University of Florida), 2001
  • B.S. Management/Entrepreneurship (Florida Atlantic University), 1994

Teaching (60%)

Dr. Perez aims to guide students to an understanding of concepts and proficiency in applications through active and inquiry-based lessons. Lessons developed for any course are student-focused rather than teacher-centered. In this regard, students are not passively receiving information, but are required to openly practice their thinking.

Courses Taught

  • ORH3513C Environmental Plant Identfication and Use - Offered every summer and fall. This is a live introductory, upper division course with an outdoor, environmental laboratory designed to have students experience commonly used landscape plants, their use in the built environment, and their identifying characteristics. Students will explore plant identification methods, growth characteristics and culture of landscape and greenhouse plants. Plant materials include trees, shrubs, vines, groundcovers, grasses and floriculture crops.
  • HOS5115C Horticultural Plant Morphology and Identification - Offered every summer and fall. For graduate students who have not taken ORH3513C. Principles and practices of horticultural plant identification using vegetative and floral morphology. Graduate students are required to complete a special project as part of this course.
  • PLS 3223 Plant Propagation (co-requisite: PLS3223L) - Offered every fall. This course explores the physiological and anatomical underpinnings of sexual and asexual plant propagation in a dynamic and active classroom setting. Principles and practices of propagation via vegetative propagules, grafting, layering and seeds are covered.
  • PLS3223L Plant Propagation Lab (co-requisite PLS 3223) - Offered every fall. Students practice the art and science of various propagation methods through this hands-on lab.  Students are challenged to link theory, practice and critical thinking through the production of various forms of scientific communication including: 1) a lab report written in scientific journal format; 2) a scientific poster presentation; and 3) a computer-aided oral presentation. Field trips to commercial propagation facilities are also included. Students provide a critical assessment of their field trip experiences.
  • PLS522C Propagation of Horticultural Crops - Offered ever fall. For graduate students who have not taken PLS3223/L. Theoretical and practical applications of macro-propagation techniques of higher plants. Graduate students must complete a special project.

Research (40%)

The Earth’s ecosystems are fundamental to sustaining life through the myriad services they provide. The scale and scope of these services make them impossible to duplicate through technology. Unfortunately, ecosystems in Florida and around the world have been altered or degraded to the point that immediate actions are required to conserve and restore their functions. Restoring ecosystem function benefits human health, agricultural production, and conserves natural resources. Plant diversity is inextricably linked to ecosystem function. Plant conservation and restoration activities are, therefore, crucial to an integrated ecosystem restoration approach. Concurrently, the native plant industry is seeking to bolster production due to increasing demand. However, a significant challenge to meeting conservation and restoration goals and the needs of the native plant industry is the fact that very little is known regarding the seed biology of native plants. It becomes important then, in order to improve plant restoration outcomes and enhance opportunities for the native plant industry that practitioners become increasingly aware of science-based results dealing with seed biology research. A new research theme of the lab is to elucidate the responses of seeds to heat and desiccation stress (e.g. global climate change), then determine biophysical mechanisms associated with stress response.

Therefore research in the lab focuses on developmental physiology of seeds; germination ecology; and seed response to thermal and desiccation stress. Rationales for the research program include: understanding how germplasm may be stored and propagated more effectively for restoration purposes and the development of seed technology for the wildflower industry. We work with native and endangered plants from various ecosystems. Hector is one of the founding members of the Plant Restoration and Conservation Horticulture (PRCH) research consortium. Members of PRCH work collaboratively to research the applications of horticultural technologies to conserve and restore plant diversity in ecosystems.

Selected Publications

G = graduate student, U = undergraduate research associate

  • Pérez, H.E. and K. KettnerU. 2013. Characterizing Ipomopsis rubra (Polemoniaceae) germination under various thermal scenarios with non-parametric and semi-parametric statistical methods. Planta 238:771-784. Click Here
  • UKettner, K. and H.E. Pérez. 2012. Dose-response of germinating Rudbeckia mollis (Asteraceae) seeds exposed to various thermal scenarios. Seed Science Research 22: 191-197. Click Here
  • Pérez, H.E., Hill, L.M. and C. Walters. 2012. An analysis of embryo development in palm: interactions between dry matter accumulation and water relations in Pritchardia remota (Aceraceae). Seed Science Research 22:97-111. Click Here
  • Thetford, M., GO’Donoughue, A.E., Wilson, S.B. and H.E. Pérez. 2012. Softwood cutting propagation of three Polygonella wildflower species native to Florida. Propagation of Ornamental Plants 12:58-62. Click Here
  • GJohnson, T.R., Kane, M.E. and H.E. Pérez. 2011. Examining the interaction of light, nutrients and carbohydrates on seed germination and early seedling development of Bletia purpurea (Orchidaceae). Plant Growth Regulation 63:89-99. Click Here
  • Sharma, J., George, S., Pandey, M., Norcini, J. and H. Perez. 2011. Genetic differentiation in natural populations of a Keystone bunchgrass (Aristida stricta) across its native range. Genetica 139:261-271. Click Here
  • Kauth, P.J. and H.E. Pérez. 2011. Industry survey of the native wildflower market in Florida. HortTechnology 21: 779-788. Click Here
  • GHeather, A.E., Pérez, H.E. and S.B. Wilson. 2010. Non-deep physiological dormancy in seeds of two Polygonella species with horticultural potential. HortScience 45:1854-1858. Click Here
  • Pérez, H.E. and J.G. Norcini. 2010. A new method of wiregrass (Aristida stricta Michaux.) viability testing using an enhanced forceps press test. Natural Areas Journal 30:387-391. Click Here
  • Pérez, H.E., Adams, C.A., Kane, M.E., Norcini, J.G., Acomb, G., and Larsen, C. 2010. Awareness of and interest in native wildflowers among college students in plant-related disciplines: a case study from Florida. HortTechnology 20:368-376. Click Here
  • Pérez, H.E. 2009. Promoting germination in ornamental palm seeds through dormancy alleviation. HortTechnology 19:682-685. Click Here
  • Pérez. H.E., Almira, F. and M. Brennan. 2009. Germination timing and dormancy break in seeds of summer farewell (Dalea pinnata, Fabaceae). Ecological Restoration 2:160-168.
  • Pérez, H.E. Shiels, A.B., Zaleski, H.M., and D.R. Drake. 2008. Germination after simulated rat damage in seeds of two endemic Hawaiian palm species. Journal of Tropical Ecology 24:555-558. Click Here
  • Pérez, H.E., Criley, R.A. and C.C. Baskin. 2008. Germination in dormant seeds of Pritchardia remota (Kuntze) Beck., an endangered palm endemic to Hawaii. Natural Areas Journal 28:251-260. Click Here
  • Pérez, H.E. 2005. Rapid excision of Pritchardia embryos. PALMS 49: 36-39. Click Here
  • Pérez, H.E. 2005. What students can do to improve graduate education in conservation biology. Conservation Biology 19:2033-2035. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2005.00119.x
  • Dehgan, B.D. and Pérez, H.E. 2005. Preliminary study shows germination of Caribbean applecactus (Harrisia fragrans) improved with acid scarification and gibberellic acid. Native Plants Journal 6:91-96. Click Here
  • Pérez, H.E. and K. Kobayashi. 2004. Graduate student professional development: a case study. HortTechnology 14:625-627. Click Here
  • Dehgan, B.D., Norcini, J.G., Kabat, S.M., and H.E. Pérez. 2003. Effect of seed scarification and gibberellic acid treatment on seedling emergence of Sky-blue lupine (Lupinus diffusus). Journal of Environmental Horticulture 21: 64-67. Click Here

Current Projects

    Florida Wildflower Research Program

    Vision - To be a center of robust scientific inquiry related to the seed biology, seed technology, and enhanced awareness of Florida native wildflowers.

    Mission – To mentor the next generation of seed scientists and plant biology educators; translate and apply basic aspects of germination ecology, developmental physiology and seed technology that will push forward seed science, inform wildflower seed stakeholders and enhance the wildflower seed industry; and to educate citizens on the necessity of wildflowers in their lives.

    USDA/W-2168 Multi-state Research Project: Environmental and Genetic Determinants of Seed Quality and Performance

    Objective 1 – Identify key factors involved in the enhancement or loss of seed quality
    Objective 2 – Eliminating seed dormancy as a constraint during seed production and germination in agronomic seed production and ecological/biomass seed establishment
    Objective 3 – Enhancing see germination in agronomic and native species for improved stand establishment

Past Projects

  • Developing A Web-Based Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Ecological Restoration (2007-10; $500,000; Co-PI; USDA-CREES-HEC)
  • Establishing Provenance, Viability-Testing Standards, and Enhanced Germination for Seed Production of Wiregrass in Florida (2007-08; $49,650; PI; Florida Wildflower Foundation)
  • Long-term Educational Wildflower Meadow (2007-08; $24,357; PI; Florida Wildflower Foundation)
  • Propagation, Production, and Landscape Evaluation of Native Wildflowers in West, Central, and South Florida (2007-08; $36,298; Co-PI; Florida Wildflower Foundation)
  • Overcoming Dormancy Mechanisms and Promoting Germination of Florida Native Wildflowers Useful for Roadside and Urban Planting (2006-07, $31,060, Florida Wildflower Foundation)
  • Implications of Embryo Desiccation Tolerance, Seed Dormancy and Seed Damage for
    Conservation of Pritchardia Palms Endemic to Hawaii (2001-2006)

Recent Graduate Students

  • Nicholas Genna, M.S. (2013-current, Chair) – Germination of wildflower seeds under thermal stress.
  • Tia Tyler, M.S. (2013-current, Chair) – Comparative germination responses between native and exotic wildflowers.
  • Antonio Crespo, Ph.D. (2009-current, Member) – Restoring Paute River Watershed (Ecuador) through agro-succession.
  • Hoang Nguyen, Ph.D. (2010-current, Member) – In vitro germination of Nymphaea seeds.
  • James Sadler, M.S. (2010-2013, Member) – Cryo-preservation of sea oats propagules.
  • Deidra Slough, M.S. (2010-12, Member) – Plant blindness: An exploration and instrument development using the Delphi technique.
  • Tim Johnson, Ph.D. (2007-11, Member) – In vitro germination of orchid seeds.
  • Alison O’Donoughue, M.S. (2007-09, Chair) – Seed dormancy and germination of wildflowers.
  • Julie Sorenson, M.S.-N.T. (2007-09, Member) – Comparing seedling establishment between exotic and native species.
  • Dan Stever, M.S.-N.T. (2005-06, Member) – Designing a plant conservatory.


Hector Perez