Interactions between shoot age structure, nutrient availability and integration in the giant bamboo Phyllostachys pubescens

R. Li, M.J.A. Werger, H. de Kroon, H.J. During, Z.C. Zhong

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59 Citations (Scopus)


The age structure of adult shoots, the nutrient availability of the habitat, and their interaction, are important factors influencing the productivity of bamboo groves. In a field fertilization experiment over two years we examined the impact of physiological integration on the emergence, growth, and survival of new shoots of Phyllostachys pubescens, a giant woody bamboo. Impacts of physiological integration were compared using uniform and patchy fertilization treatments. The number of new shoots emerging per plot significantly increased with the application of fertilizer (NPK), but the increase was constrained by the age structure of adult shoots. In a year with a high proportion of shoots with new (first-year) leaves many more new shoots emerged than in a year with a low proportion of new leaves. Mean survivorship of the new shoots was constant at 20 ␏or all treatments in both years of study. Surprisingly, fertilization did not increase DBH or height of the new shoots, suggesting that shoot size was fixed early in ontogeny. The pattern of fertilizer application, either uniform or patchy, did not affect the total number of new shoots produced. In the case of patchy application, more new shoots developed in unfertilized patches in comparison to uniformly unfertilized plots, probably because these parts of the clone received resources via the rhizomes from the adult shoots in adjacent fertilized patches. The production of new shoots in fertilized patches, in turn, was lower than that in uniformly fertilized plots as a result of this physiological integration. The results are discussed in the general context of the impact of integration on clonal plant performance in dense stands.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-446
JournalPlant Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Age structure
  • Bamboo
  • Clonal growth
  • Patchy fertilization
  • Physiological integration
  • Vegetative reproduction


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