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Maximum sustainable xylem sap tensions in Rhododendron and other species


The acoustic technique was used in conjunction with the pressure chamber to determine the tensions causing cavitation of xylem sap in leaves of five woody angiosperms (Acer pseudoplatanus L., Alnus glutinosa L. Gaertn., Eucalyptus globulus Labill., Fraxinus excelsior L. and Rhododendron ponticum L.) and three species of herbs (Lycopersicum esculentum Mill., Plantago major L. and Ricinus communis L.). The results showed leaves of most species to suffer considerably from cavitation at sap tensions of 1.6-3 MPa. Two of the herbs, Lycopersicum and Ricinus, cavitated extensively at sap tensions below 1 MPa. Additional evidence is presented that clicks, detected by acoustic amplification, are caused by cavitation of sap in the xylem conduits. A rapid method is suggested for the determination of sap tensions in cavitating leaves and which is suitable for surveys of the critical sap tension in a large number of species.

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Crombie, D.S., Milburn, J.A. & Hipkins, M.F. Maximum sustainable xylem sap tensions in Rhododendron and other species. Planta 163, 27–33 (1985).

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Key words

  • Acoustic detector
  • Cavitation
  • Sap tension
  • Xylem sap