, Volume 98, Issue 3–4, pp 412–418 | Cite as

Determinants of thermal balance in the Hawaiian giant rosette plant, Argyroxiphium sandwicense

  • P. J. Melcher
  • G. Goldstein
  • F. C. Meinzer
  • B. Minyard
  • T. W. Giambelluca
  • L. L. Loope
Original Paper


The effects of leaf pubescence and rosette geometry on thermal balance were studied in a subspecies of a Hawaiian giant rosette plant, Argyroxiphium sandwicense. This species, a member of the silversword alliance, grows above 2000 m elevation in the alpine zone of two Hawaiian volcanoes. Its highly pubescent leaves are very reflective (absorptance in the 400–700 nm waveband=0.44). Temperature of the expanded leaves was very similar to, or even lower than, air temperature during clear days, which was somewhat surprising given that solar radiation at the high elevation sites where this species grows can exceed 1100 W m−2. However, the temperature of the apical bud, which is located in the center of the parabolic rosette, was usually 25°C higher than air temperature at midday. Experimental manipulations in the field indicated that incoming solar radiation being focussed towards the center of the rosette resulted in higher temperatures of the apical bud. Attenuation of wind speed inside the rosette, which increased the thickness of the boundary layer surrounding the apical bud, also contributed to higher temperatures. The heating effect on the apical bud of the large parabolic rosette, which apparently enhances the rates of physiological processes in the developing leaves, may exclude the species from lower elevations by producing lethal tissue temperatures. Model simulations of apical bud temperatures at different elevations and laboratory estimates of the temperature threshold for permanent heat injury predicted that the lower altitude limit should be approximately 1900 m, which is reasonably close to the lower limit of distribution of A. sandwicense on Haleakala volcano.

Key words

Argyroxiphium sandwicense Energy balance Heat tolerance Leaf pubescence Silversword 


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Copyright information

© Springer Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. J. Melcher
    • 1
  • G. Goldstein
    • 1
  • F. C. Meinzer
    • 2
  • B. Minyard
    • 3
  • T. W. Giambelluca
    • 3
  • L. L. Loope
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Hawaiian Sugar Planters' AssociationAieaUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeographyUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA
  4. 4.Haleakala National ParkMakawaoUSA

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