Ecological Research

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 380–386

Stem turnover strategy of multiple-stemmed woody plants

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11284-006-0169-7

Cite this article as:
Fujiki, D. & Kikuzawa, K. Ecol Res (2006) 21: 380. doi:10.1007/s11284-006-0169-7


We have investigated stem turnover strategy for Lindera umbellata, an understory shrub that sprouts from its rootstock under natural conditions to replace constituent stems, on the basis of the hypothesis that the multiple-stemmed form of woody species is an adaptation enabling efficient reproduction in high-stress environments. We tested the hypothesis that the timing of stem replacement maximizes sexual reproduction for the shrub. We developed a model for the time of optimum replacement of a stem by a daughter stem which maximizes the sexual reproduction of a shrub and tested the model using L. umbellata growing in the field. From the model, the optimum time of replacement of a stem with a daughter stem is when cumulative sexual reproduction per unit time for the stem is maximum. In practice, this will be the last age (topt) at which annual sexual reproduction in a stem can potentially exceed cumulative sexual reproduction per unit time for the stem. Half of the stems died at almost topt and had sexually mature daughter stems at that time. Other stems, however, died at times more remote from topt when daughter stems were sexually immature. It is thought that normal replacement of the latter stems was prevented by accidents such as breakage. We conclude that clumps of L. umbellata achieve efficient sexual reproduction by stem replacement at the optimum time, although accidents can, to some extent, determine when the stem actually dies.


Lindera umbellataMultiple-stemmed woody plantsOptimum timingSexual reproductionStem turnover

Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Forest Biology, Graduate School of AgricultureKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan