Vegetative reproduction by species with different adaptations to shallow-flooded habitats

J.P.M. Lenssen, F.B.J. Menting, W.H. Van der Putten, C.W.P.M. Blom

    Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

    34 Citations (Scopus)


    In shallow flooded parts of rich fens Mentha aquatica might thrive in deeper water than Epilobium hirsutum but previous experiments have provided no clear indication that the flooding tolerance of these species differs. In this study we investigated, by measuring growth, biomass allocation and vegetative reproduction, whether the impact of water level on vegetative reproduction might produce different lower boundaries on water level gradients. There was a striking contrast between biomass production at high water levels and the field distribution of both species. After 18 wk, the mean biomass of E. hirsutum grown in waterlogged and flooded conditions was 82% and 54%, respectively, of the mean biomass production of drained plants. Biomass of waterlogged and flooded M. aquatica was reduced to 57% and 37%, in drained conditions. Waterlogged and hooded E. hirsutum had swollen stem bases and invested a high proportion of biomass in adventitious roots. Stems of M. aquatica did not swell, formed few adventitious roots and maintained an equal proportion of below- ground roots at all water levels. The effect of water level on vegetative reproduction corresponded well with the lower hydrological boundaries of both species. When waterlogged and flooded, most rhizomes of E. hirsutum emerged from above-ground parts of the stem base and were oriented in an upward direction. Plants in flooded soil allocated less biomass to rhizomes and also reduced the number and size of rhizomes. Rhizome formation of M. aquatica on the other hand was not directly affected by water level and only depended on plant size. These differences in vegetative reproduction are discussed in relation to the different abilities of both species to oxygenate their below-ground roots. It was concluded that the mode of adaptation to soil flooding might also affect vegetative reproduction and, therefore, a species' ability for long-term persistence in soil-flooded habitats. [KEYWORDS: clonal growth; size-dependent reproduction; stem elongation; pseudoannuals; zonation Adventitious root-formation; typha-latifolia; water-depth; growth; plants; wetland; rumex; submergence; tolerance; size]
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)61-70
    JournalNew Phytologist
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2000


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