Ecological Research

, 12:11 | Cite as

Growth characteristics ofNelumbo nucifera Gaertn. in response to water depth and flooding

  • Seiichi Nohara
  • Makoto Kimura


Three experiments on the effects of water depth and flooding onNelumbo nucifera Gaertn. were made in the artificial environment of concrete ponds. First, plants were harvested in autumn after growing under seven different water levels ranging from 0.2–3 m The number of floating leaves, the total number of leaves and the leaf area index of emergent leaves were greatest in the tanks at 0.5 m depth. The petiole dry weight per unit length of emergent leaves and the ratio of aboveground to belowground biomass rose with increasing water depth up to 2 m. In contrast, that of floating leaves was constant at about 10 mg dry weight cm−1. The proportion of biomass in tubers fell from 20% at 0.2 m to 6% at 2 m. Second, petiole elongation responses to the amplitude of flooding were investigated in early summer. The maximum rate of petiole elongation was 25 cm per day at 2.4 m water depth. This was the maximum depth at whichN. nucifera could grow. No petioles could elongate from 3 m to 5 m depth. Finally, the effects of timing of flooding on growth were investigated. At the end of growing season, the belowground biomass of plants in the flooding treatment in late summer was smallest among the flooding treatment plants (P<0.05), and was most severe when flooding occurred in this season. Based on the results of these experiments, the growth characteristics ofN. nucifera in relation to petiole elongation, biomass allocation, and flooding tolerance were discussed.

Key words

biomass allocation floating leaf flooding heterophylly petiole elongation water depth 


  1. Arber A. (1920)Water plants: A study of aquatic angiosperms. Cambridge University Press, London, 436 pp.Google Scholar
  2. Barclay A. M. &Crawford R. M. M. (1982) Plant growth and survival under strict anaerobiosis.Journal of Experimental Botany 33: 541–549.Google Scholar
  3. Blom C. W. P. M., Bogemann G. M., Laan P., Van Der Sman A. J. M., Van Der Steeg H. M. &Voesenek L. A. C. J. (1990) Adaptations to flooding in plants from river areas.Aquatic Botany 38: 29–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brock Th. C. M., van der Verde G. &van der Steeg H. M. (1987) The effects of extreme water level fluctuations on the wetland vegetation of a nymphaeid-dominated oxbow lake in the Netherlands.Archiv für Hydrobiologie, Beiheft 27: 57–73.Google Scholar
  5. Chambers P. A. &Kalff J. (1987) Light and nutrients in the control of aquatic plant community structure. I.In situ experiments.Journal of Ecology 75: 611–619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Crawford R. M. M. (1982) Physiological responses to flooding. In:Physiological Plant Ecology II. (eds O. L. Lang, P. S. Nobel, C. B. Osmond & H. Ziegler). Springer-Verlag, Berlin.Google Scholar
  7. Grace J. B. (1989) Effects of water depth onTypha latifolia andTypha domingensis.American Journal of Botany 76: 762–768.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Grace J. B. &Wetzel R. G. (1982) Niche differentiation between two rhizomatous plant species:Typha latifolia andTypha angustifolia.Canadian Journal of Botany 60: 46–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Grime J. P. (1979)Plant Strategies and Vegetation Processes. John Wiley, Chichester.Google Scholar
  10. Hutchinson G. E. (1975)A Treatise on Limnology, Vol. 3. Wiley Interscience, New York.Google Scholar
  11. Ikusima I. (1972)Matter production of plant community in hydrosphere. I. Aquatic Plants. Kyoritsu Press, Tokyo (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  12. Keddy P. A. (1983) Shoreline vegetation in Axe Lake, Ontario: Effects of exposure on zonation patterns.Ecology 64: 331–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kunii H. &Maeda K. (1982) Seasonal and long-term changes in surface cover of aquatic plants in a shallow pond, Ojaga-ike, Chiba, Japan.Hydrobiologia 87: 45–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kunii H., Kunii K. &Takagi Y. (1985) Report on aquatic plants and seasonal changes of water quality in pond Hasu-ike, Shimane Prefecture.Memoirs of Faculty of Science, Shimane University 19: 113–119 (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  15. Lieffers V. J. &Shay J. M. (1981) The effect of water level on the growth and reproduction ofScirpus maritimus var.paludosus.Canadian Journal of Botany 59: 118–121.Google Scholar
  16. Minamikawa K. (1963) Studies on the vegetable East Indian lotus,Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn.Research Report from Agriculture Experimental Station of Saga Prefecture 4: 1–73 (in Japanese with English summary).Google Scholar
  17. Megonigal J. P. &Day F. P. (1992) Effects of flooding on root and shoot production of cypress in large experimental enclosures.Ecology 73: 1182–1193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mevi-Schutz J. &Grosse W. (1988a) A two-way gas transport system inNelumbo nucifera.Plant, Cell and Environment 11: 27–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mevi-Schutz J. &Grosse W. (1988b) The importance of water vapor for the circulating air flow throughNelumbo nucifera.Journal of Experimental Botany 39: 1231–1236.Google Scholar
  20. Nohara S. (1991) A study on annual changes in surface cover of floating-leaved plants in a lake using aerial photography.Vegetatio 97: 125–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Nohara S. (1993) Annual changes of stands ofTrapa natans L. in Takahamairi Bay of Lake Kasumigaura, Japan.Japanese Journal of Limnology 54: 59–68.Google Scholar
  22. Nohara S. (1996) Growth of the Indian lotus (Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn.) and the influence of tuber density on foliage structure and biomass.Japanese Journal of Limnology 57: 235–243.Google Scholar
  23. Nohara S. &Tsuchiya T. (1990) Effects of water level fluctuation on the growth ofNelumbo nucifera Gaertn. in Lake Kasumigaura, Japan.Ecological Research 5: 237–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ridge I. (1987) Ethylene and growth control in amphibious plants. In:Plant Life in Aquatic and Amphibious Habitats (ed.R. M. M. Crawford) pp. 53–76. Blackwell Science, Oxford.Google Scholar
  25. Sakurai Y. (1981) Changes of flora, vegetation area and biomass of aquatic plants in the recent progress of eutrophication in Lake Kasumigaura.Research Report from the National Institute for Environmental Studies 22: 229–279 (in Japanese with English summary).Google Scholar
  26. Sale P. J. M. &Wetzel R. G. (1983) Growth and metabolism ofTypha species in reaction to cutting treatment.Aquatic Botany 15: 321–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Samarakoon A. B. &Horton R. F. (1981) Petiole growth inRanunculus sceleratus: the role of growth regulators and the leaf blade.Canadian Journal of Botany 61: 3326–3331.Google Scholar
  28. Sastroutomo S. S. (1973) Distribution and seasonal change of aquatic macrophytes in Lake Ojagaike, Chiba.Ecological Review 19: 145–161.Google Scholar
  29. Sastroutomo S. S. (1982) Summer biomass of aquatic macrophytes in relation to sediment characteristics in Lake Aino-numa, Miyagi.Japanese Journal of Ecology 32: 45–55.Google Scholar
  30. Sculthorpe C. D. (1967)The Biology of Aquatic Vascular Plants. Edward Arnold, London.Google Scholar
  31. Spence D. H. N. (1982) The zonation of plants in freshwater lakes.Advances in Ecological Research 12: 37–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Squires L. &van der Valk A. G. (1992) Water-depth tolerances of the dominant emergent macrophytes of the Delta Marsh, Manitoba.Canadian Journal Botany 70: 1860–1867.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Tano H. (1983) The land conditions and lotus root growing in the alluvial lowland along Lake Kasumigaura.Geographical Review of Japan 56: 17–34 (in Japanese with English abstract).Google Scholar
  34. Tezuka A. (1983) The development of lotus cultivation in the lowlands around Lake Kasumigaura.Chiri 28: 32–40 (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  35. Tsuchiya T. &Nohara S. (1989) Growth and life span of the leaves ofNelumbo nucifera Gaertn. in Lake Kasumigaura, Japan.Aquatic Botany 36: 87–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Tsuchiya T., Nohara S. &Iwakuma T. (1993) Zonal distribution of aquatic macrophytes in the littoral zone of Edosakiiri Bay in Lake Kasumigaura, Japan.Japanese Journal of Limnology 54: 125–130.Google Scholar
  37. Unni K. S. (1971) An ecological study of the macrophytic vegetation of the Doodhadhari Lake, Raipur, M.P., India. 1. Distribution and seasonal change in aquatic plants.Hydrobiologia 38: 139–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Unni K. S. (1976) Production of submerged aquatic communities of Doodhadhari Lake, Raipur (M.P. India).Hydrobiologia 48: 175–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Vergara B. S. (1985) Growth and Development of the Deep Water Rice Plant. IRRI Research Paper Series103: 1–38.Google Scholar
  40. Wetzel R. G. (1983)Limnology, 2nd edn. Saunders New York.Google Scholar
  41. Wooten J. W. (1986) Variations in leaf characteristics of six species of Sagittaria (Alismataceae) caused by various water levels.Aquatic Botany 23: 321–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Ecological Society of Japan 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Seiichi Nohara
    • 1
  • Makoto Kimura
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Environmental BiologyThe National Institute for Environmental StudiesTsukuba, Ibaraki
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceTokyo Metropolitan UniversityHachiohji, TokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations