Wetlands Ecology and Management

, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 239–247 | Cite as

Rhizome dynamics and resource storage in Phragmites australis

  • Wilhelm Granéli
  • Stefan E. B. Weisner
  • Mark D. Sytsma


Seasonal changes in rhizome concentrations of total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNC), water soluble carbohydrates (WSC), and mineral nutrients (N, P and K) were monitored in two Phragmites australis stands in southern Sweden. Rhizome biomass, rhizome length per unit ground area, and specific weight (weight/ length ratio) of the rhizomes were monitored in one of the stands.

Rhizome biomass decreased during spring, increased during summer and decreased during winter. However, changes in spring and summer were small (< 500 g DW m-2) compared to the mean rhizome biomass (approximately 3000 g DW m−2). Winter losses were larger, approximately 1000 g DW m-2, and to a substantial extent involved structural biomass, indicating rhizome mortality. Seasonal changes in rhizome length per unit ground area revealed a rhizome mortality of about 30% during the winter period, and also indicated that an intensive period of formation of new rhizomes occurred in June.

Rhizome concentrations of TNC and WSC decreased during the spring, when carbohydrates were translocated to support shoot growth. However, rhizome standing stock of TNC remained large (> 1000 g m−2). Concentrations and standing stocks of mineral nutrients decreased during spring/ early summer and increased during summer/ fall. Only N, however, showed a pattern consistent with a spring depletion caused by translocation to shoots. This pattern indicates sufficient root uptake of P and K to support spring growth, and supports other evidence that N is generally the limiting mineral nutrient for Phragmites.

The biomass data, as well as increased rhizome specific weight and TNC concentrations, clearly suggests that “reloading” of rhizomes with energy reserves starts in June, not towards the end of the growing season as has been suggested previously. This resource allocation strategy of Phragmites has consequences for vegetation management.

Our data indicate that carbohydrate reserves are much larger than needed to support spring growth. We propose that large stores are needed to ensure establishment of spring shoots when deep water or stochastic environmental events, such as high rhizome mortality in winter or loss of spring shoots due to late season frost, increase the demand for reserves.


biomass carbohydrates nitrogen phosphorus Phragmites australis potassium reed rhizome translocation wetland 


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Copyright information

© SPB Academic Publishing 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wilhelm Granéli
    • 1
  • Stefan E. B. Weisner
    • 1
  • Mark D. Sytsma
    • 1
  1. 1.Limnology, Department of EcologyUniversity of LundLundSweden

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