A Comparative Study between Evergreen and Deciduous Daylily Species Reveals the Potential Contributions of Winter Shoot Growth and Leaf Freezing Tolerance to Foliar Habits

  • Danqing Li
  • Yiping Xia
  • Jianhua Lou
  • Dong Zhang
  • Xiaobin Wang
  • Jiaping ZhangEmail author


Evergreen ornamental plants can supply year-round aesthetic value and strong ecological benefits in comparison to deciduous species. However, less attention has been paid to the cause of foliar habits, especially in herbaceous perennials. A comparative study on evergreen and deciduous species with close relationships could help to uncover the factors that determine foliar habits when sibling mutants are absent. Three independent experiments were conducted in the present study. Experiment 1 was focused on the changes in the percentage of green leaves (PGL) between evergreen daylilies (Hemerocallis aurantiaca Baker) and the deciduous species (Hemerocallis fulva L.). The results showed that their foliar habits were consistent with those of previous reports but could be influenced dramatically by the air temperature. The leaf freezing tolerance (LFT) and relevant morphological, physiological and biochemical variations in leaf tissues in addition to the shoot growth status were determined during Experiments 2 and 3 when comparing natural cold acclimation to de-acclimation. Correlation analyses between the PGL and other indices indicated that the winter shoot growth probably maintained the green leaves of the evergreen daylilies, while a strong LFT might facilitate the defoliation of deciduous species. Furthermore, the dormant deciduous daylily is more freezing-tolerant than the ever-growing evergreen species. This study also possesses practical value for plants with variant green periods in landscaping.


Evergreen daylily Digital image analysis Natural cold acclimation Winter shoot growth Leaf freezing tolerance Superoxide dismutase 



Digital image analysis


Electrolyte leakage


Growing degree days


Hue, saturation and brightness


Leaf freezing tolerance


Low temperature


Lethal temperature causing 50% injury


Leaf width




Number of the functional leaves


Percentage of green leaves


Relative chlorophyll content


Relative electrolyte conductivity


Reactive oxygen species




Shoot elongation rate


Superoxide dismutase


Soluble protein


Total soluble sugar


Water content



This work was supported by Major Agricultural Technology Cooperative Promotion Plan of Zhejiang Province (2018XTTGHH01).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Landscape Architecture, College of Agriculture and BiotechnologyZhejiang UniversityHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Hangzhou Botanical GardenHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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