Plant development, leaf morphology, leaf cuticular wax content, and leaf water relations were determined for seven tree species exposed to consecutive cycles of drought. The objective of the experiment was to identify plant taxa suitable for landscapes prone to drought. On the day drought treatments began, plant development traits and leaf morphology varied among species. Leaf cuticular wax content was different among species and ranged from 0.053 mg·cm–2 in California white oak (Quercus lobata Née), to 0.200 mg·cm–2 in Texas red oak (Quercus buckleyi Buckl.). Was content in Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa Michx.) and Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii Buckl.) averaged 0.105 and 0.11 mg·cm–2, respectively. At harvest, Texas red oak plants treated with drought had the highest root-to-shoot dry weight ratio which averaged 3.1. In contrast, plants of Arizona ash (Fraxinus velutina Torr.) and California white oak that were frequently irrigated had the lowest root-to-shoot dry weight ratio. Drought did not affect stem elongation, total lamina area, leaf dry weight, and specific leaf weight. Abaxial leaf surfaces of Arizona ash were the most pubescent and averaged1836 trichomes/cm2. Drought-stressed plants of golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata Laxm.) had the most negative midday leaf water potential, which averaged –2.5 MPa. Plants of Chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii Engelm.) that were irrigated frequently had the least negative predawn leaf water potentials. Predawn leaf water potentials tended to be more negative for Arizona ash and golden rain tree than for the oak species. These results suggest that some species of oak might perform well in landscapes prone to drought.
Coye A. Balok and Rolston St. Hilaire
Coye A. Balok and Rolston St. Hilaire
Identification of tree taxa that can thrive on reduced moisture regimes mandated by xeriscape programs of the southwest United States could be facilitated if responses to drought of those taxa are determined. Leaf water relations, plant development, and cuticular wax content of seven taxa maintained as well-irrigated controls or exposed to drought and irrigated based on evapotranspiration were studied. Leaf water potential of drought-stressed Fraxinus velutina Torr. (Arizona ash), Koelreuteria paniculata Laxm. (golden rain tree), Quercus macrocarpa Michx. (bur oak), and Quercus muehlenbergii Engelm. (chinkapin oak) were lower at predawn than the controls. Drought-stressed plants of F. velutina, K. paniculata, and Quercus lobata Née (California white oak) had more negative midday water potential than the control plants. Drought reduced stomatal conductance to as little as 17%, 23%, and 45% of controls in F. velutina, K. paniculata, and Q. macrocarpa, respectively. Drought-stressed plants of F. velutina, K. paniculata, Q. macrocarpa, and Q. muehlenbergii had reduced transpiration rates. Fraxinus velutina had both the highest net assimilation rate (NAR) and relative growth rate (RGR) regardless of irrigation treatment. Mean specific leaf weight (dry weight (DW) of a 1-cm2 leaf disc divided by the weight), trichome density, stomatal density, leaf thickness, and cuticular wax content varied among species but not between irrigation treatments. Leaves of Q. buckleyi Buckl. (Texas red oak) had one of the highest stomatal densities, and also had leaves which were among the waxiest, most dense, and thickest. Abaxial leaf surfaces of F. velutina were the most pubescent. Across species, drought led to lower ratios of leaf surface area to root DW, and leaf DW to root DW. Quercus buckleyi plants subjected to drought had the highest root to shoot DW ratio (3.1). The low relative growth rate of Q. buckleyi might limit widespread landscape use. However, Q. buckleyi may merit increased use in landscapes on a reduced moisture budget because of foliar traits, carbon allocation patterns, and the relative lack of impact of drought on plant tissue water relations.