Net photosynthesis (Pn) of two ecotypes of redbud (Cercis canadensis L.) was studied following growth under high temperatures and increasing drought. Although mexican redbud [C. canadensis var. mexicana (Rose) M. Hopkins] exhibited greater Pn than eastern redbud (C. canadensis var. canadensis L.), Pn decreased at a similar rate under water deficit stress for both ecotypes. Mexican redbud also had greater instantaneous water use efficiency [net photosynthesis: transpiration (WUE)] than eastern redbud. Differences in both Pn and WUE might have been due to differences in leaf thickness. The optimum temperature for potential photosynthetic capacity (37 °C) was unaffected by irrigation or ecotype. Tissue osmotic potential at full turgor was more negative in eastern redbud, but was unaffected by drought stress in either ecotype. Soluble carbohydrate content was higher in eastern redbud, and in both ecotypes, d-pinitol was the major soluble carbohydrate and was considerably more abundant in the water-stressed plants. Total polyol content (myo-inositol + ononitol + pinitol) was also greater in the water-stressed plants. Both ecotypes were very tolerant of high temperatures and drought.
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Assistant professor, and corresponding author. Current address: Kansas State University, John C. Pair Horticultural Center, Haysville, KS 67060-8351.