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  • Author or Editor: María J. Sánchez-Blanco x
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Julián Miralles-Crespo, María J. Sánchez-Blanco, Alejandra Navarro G., Juan J. Martínez-Sánchez, Jose A. Franco L. and Sebastián Bañón A.

The dendrometer has been proposed as a sensitive plant water indicator based on stem growth. However, studies including dendrometers have been mainly focused on fruit trees and less attention has been paid to ornamental shrubs (small plants). In the study described here, stem dendrometers were used to ascertain whether there is any relationship between water status and dendrometric indices in potted ornamental shrubs (1 to 2 cm diameter). For this purpose, three Mediterranean shrubs (Pittosporum tobira, Callistemon citrinus, and Rhamnus alaternus) were studied under water stress recovery conditions in winter, spring, and early summer. At the end of the experiment, an extreme water stress treatment, which resulted in plant death (August) was also studied. Stem diameter variations [maximum and minimum daily stem values (MXDS and MNDS, respectively), maximum daily shrinkage (MDS), and stem growth rate (SGR)], daily evapotranspiration (daily plant ET), and leaf water potential (Ψleaf) parameters were considered throughout the experiment. A regression analysis between dendrometric indices and daily plant ET showed that MXDS and MNDS were sensitive under water stress recovery conditions, especially in severe environmental conditions (spring and summer). The SGR in C. citrinus, the MDS in P. tobira, and both indices in R. alaternus were seen to be sensitive during the stress to death period. Although more studies are needed, the results confirm that the use of dendrometers in small plants may be useful to provide continuous and automated registers of the plant water status under different substrate water content and climatic conditions. However, the response of these indices may imply moderate water stress.