Water Use of Two Landscape Tree Species in Tucson, Arizona

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Authors:
D.G. LevittDepartment of Soil and Water Science, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721

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J.R. SimpsonWestern Center for Urban Forest Research, U.S. Forest Service, Department of Environmental Horticulture, University of California, Davis, CA 95616

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J.L. TiptonDepartment of Plant Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721

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Although water conservation programs in the arid southwestern United States have prompted prudent landscaping practices such as planting low water use trees, there is little data on the actual water use of most species. The purpose of this study was to determine the actual water use of two common landscape tree species in Tucson, Ariz., and water use coefficients for two tree species based on the crop coefficient concept. Water use of oak (Quercus virginiana `Heritage') and mesquite (Prosopis alba `Colorado') trees in containers was measured from July to October 1991 using a precision balance. Water-use coefficients for each tree species were calculated as the ratio of measured water use per total leaf area or per projected canopy area to reference evapotranspiration obtained from a modified FAO Penman equation. After accounting for tree growth, water-use coefficients on a total leaf area basis were 0.5 and 1.0 for oak and mesquite, respectively, and on a projected canopy area basis were 1.4 and 1.6 for oaks and mesquites, respectively. These coefficients indicate that mesquites (normally considered xeric trees) use more water than oaks (normally considered mesic trees) under nonlimiting conditions.

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