Plastochron Index—A Valuable Method in Assessing Morphological Changes Induced by Light Levels

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  • 1 Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611

Dracaena sanderana `Ribbon' plants were grown under 47%, 63%, 80%, and 91% shade. After 15 weeks of growth, plants exhibited marked changes in various morphological features. In order to precisely compare leaves of plants grown under different light levels the Plastochron Index (PI) of Erickson and Mickelini (1957) was used. The plastochron was defined in terms of leaf length. Various leaf morphological characteristics were examined and correlated with 1) actual leaf numbers, and 2) with leaf developmental age. A comparison between the two methods 1) and 2) revealed that overall trends displayed by leaves with a Leaf Plastochron Index (LPI) from 12 to 2 were similar to the same trends linked to actual leaf numbers. However, leaves with LPIs lower than 2 showed that under 80% and 91% shade these leaves had higher values for all studied parameters. Comparable leaves of plants in 91% shade had consistently higher values of the leaf parameters compared to plants in other shade treatments. The use of the PI enabled us to accurately compare morphological differences between plants grown under diverse light conditions.

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