Seedling Growth of Catawba Rhododendron. I. Temperature Optima, Leaf Area, and Dry Weight Distribution

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  • 1 Department of Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7609

Catawba rhododendron (Rhododendron catawbiense Michx.) seedlings of two provenances, Johnston County, N.C. (35°45′N, 78°12′W, elevation = 67 m), and Yancey County, N.C. (35°45′N, 82°16′W, elevation = 1954 m), were grown in controlled-environment chambers for 18 weeks with days at 18, 22, 26, or 30C in factorial combination with nights at 14, 18, 22, or 26C. Shoot and root dry weights and total leaf areas of seedlings of the Yancey County provenance (high elevation) exceeded (P ≤ 0.05) those of the Johnston County (low elevation) provenance at all temperature combinations. Leaf area was maximal at 22/22C, 18/26C, and 22/26C and minimal at 30/14C (day/night). Shoot dry weight responded similarly. Root dry weight decreased linearly with increasing day temperature, but showed a quadratic response to night temperature. Leaf weight ratio (leaf dry weight: total plant dry weight) increased, while root weight ratio (root dry weight: total plant dry weight) decreased with increasing day temperature. Leaf weight ratio was consistently higher than either stem or root weight ratios. Day/night cycles of 22 to 26/22C appear optimal for seedling growth.

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