Plant canopy shade reduces photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) and ratio of red to far-red light (z). Both effects can cause plants to increase potential for light acquisition through vertical growth and leaf area expansion. Clonal plants such as Eichhornia crassipes might alternatively increase light interception via horizontal growth of stolons or rhizomes and placement of new ramets in less shaded microsites. Effect of simulated canopy shade and component effects of PPFD and z were tested by filtering or adding light uniformly, to a whole group of connected ramets, or locally, to individual ramets within a group. In uniform treatments, low PPFD reduced total growth but low z did not. Low PPFD and low z independently reduced stolon and ramet production and caused etiolation of petioles; effect of low PPFD plus low z on ramet production was greater than that of either factor alone. Lateral clonal growth thus did not seem to be a response to uniform shading; instead, uniformly low PPFD or low z increased partitioning to established ramets. Low z changed partitioning without changing total growth. In local treatments, reduction of growth of individual ramets due to low PPFD and inhibition of new ramet production attributable to spectral composition of light were mitigated when connected ramets were unshaded; plants may respond differently to patchy than to uniform shade.
Clonal growth Eichhornia crassipesPartitioning Photon flux density Red: far-red