Plant and Soil

, Volume 184, Issue 2, pp 291–298 | Cite as

Effects of varied soil nitrogen supply on Norway spruce (Picea abies [L.] Karst.)

I. Shoot and root growth and nutrient uptake
  • Bettina Seith
  • Eckhard George
  • Horst Marschner
  • Thomas Wallenda
  • Christoph Schaeffer
  • Werner Einig
  • Astrid Wingler
  • Rüdiger Hampp
Research Article


During a seven-month period the effect of different nitrogen (N) availability in soil on growth and nutrient uptake was studied in three-year-old Norway spruce (Picea abies [L.] Karst.) trees. The plants were grown in pots on N-poor forest soil supplied with various amounts and forms (inorganic and organic) of N. Increasing supply of inorganic N (as NH4NO3) increased the formation of new shoots and shoot dry weight. The root/shoot dry weight ratio of new growth was drastically decreased from 1.6 in plants without N supply to 0.5 in plants supplied with high levels of NH4NO3. This decrease in root/shoot dry weight ratio was associated with distinct changes in root morphology in favour of shorter and thicker roots. The addition of keratin as organic N source did neither affect growth nor root morphology of the trees. The amount of N taken up by plants was closely related to the supply of inorganic N, and trees supplied with highest levels of NH4NO3 also had the highest N contents in the dry matter of needles and roots. In contrast, N contents in needles of trees grown without additional N, or with keratin supply, were in the deficiency range. Supply of NH4NO3 decreased the contents of phosphate (P) and potassium (K) and therefore markedly increased N/P and N/K ratios in the needles. On the other hand, the contents of calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and manganese (Mn) in the needles were increased in the plants supplied with inorganic N, suggesting high soil availability and promotion of uptake of these divalent cations by high nitrate uptake. The observed effects on root/shoot dry weight ratio, root morphology, and mineral nutrient composition of the needles indicated that high inorganic N supply may increase above-ground productivity but at the same time decrease the tolerance of trees against soil-borne (e.g. deficiency of other mineral nutrients) stress factors.

Key words

foliar nutrient contents nitrogen Picea abies root growth root morphology root/shoot ratio 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bettina Seith
    • 1
  • Eckhard George
    • 1
  • Horst Marschner
    • 1
  • Thomas Wallenda
    • 2
  • Christoph Schaeffer
    • 2
  • Werner Einig
    • 2
  • Astrid Wingler
    • 2
  • Rüdiger Hampp
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut für PflanzenernährungUniversität HohenheimStuttgartGermany
  2. 2.Physiologische Ökologie der Pflanzen, Botanisches InstitutUniversität TübingenTübingenGermany

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