Leaf water potential-leaf water deficit relationship for ten species of a semiarid grassland community

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The relationship between water potential and relative water content (water content in percentage of full hydration) is a characteristic of plant tissues, that may vary with environmental conditions. It is used here to compare leaf water relations of ten species coexisting in a semiarid grassland community (Festucetum vaginatae danubiale) in Hungary. Three groups of species can be distinguished. In two of these leaf water potential changes only moderately with decreasing leaf water content. These are either short-lived, drought escaping spring plants relying on seasonally favourable water supply (group 1) or xerophytes with very deep root system having access to permanent water resources (group 2, only one species studied here). Xerophytes with moderately deep roots (group 3) display a rapid drop of leaf water potential with increasing leaf water deficit. This generates a steep water potential gradient in the soil-plant continuum that in turn enhances water uptake by roots. There is a positive correlation between the rate of water potential decline and degree of sclerophylly (proportion of dry material in the water-saturated leaf), and both variables show seasonal change in perennial species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-112
Number of pages8
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 1994


  • drought resistance
  • grassland
  • leaf water deficit
  • leaf water potential
  • rooting depth
  • sclerophylly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science

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