, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 41–46 | Cite as

Phenological and growth patterns of the Mediterranean oak Quercus suber L.

  • Graça Oliveira
  • Otília Correia
  • Maria Amélia Martins-Loução
  • Fernando M. Catarino
Original Articles


The phenology of Quercus suber L., a dominant species of the montados in the Iberian Peninsula, was studied for 2 years in southwest Portugal. The seasonal progression of phenological events was analyzed in seven trees. Selected branches were examined monthly for shoot elongation, leaf number, branching, flowering, and fruiting. Radial stem growth and specific leaf weight were also studied. Active growth was observed from early spring to early summer. Reserves accumulated during winter and high photosynthetic activity in early spring apparently supported this strong development. The growth flush started with stem radial increment, which seemed to be impaired by spring rainfall. Male inflorescence production was the next phenological event. Old leaves were shed during new twig and leaf emergence. Shoot elongation and the number of new leaves produced were well correlated with the previous-year shoot's length, and were not clearly related to climatic factors. Radial growth resumed in autumn at a lower rate than in the previous spring, a possible consequence of a reserve depletion due to lower photosynthetic production in summer and investment on fruit maturation, which was complete by late autumn. Premature and excessive new leaf production were apparently subjected to self-pruning strategies related to the development of each tree's crown. Younger cork-oaks produced shorter and fewer shoots per module, and more sclerophyllous leaves than the older ones. A high intra-specific variability was observed in all the results.

Key words

Phenology Growth Specific leaf weight Trees Quercus suber L. 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Caritat A, Molinas ML, Oliva M (1991) Structure and growth of six stands of cork-oak in the Girona region (in Spanish). Stud Oecol 8: 159–170Google Scholar
  2. Cartan-Son M, Floret C, Galan MJ, Grandjanny M, le Floc'h E, Maistre M, Perret P, Romane F (1992) Factors affecting radial growth of Quercus ilex L. in a coppice stand in southern France. Vegetatio 99–100: 61–68Google Scholar
  3. Correia OA, Martins AC, Catarino FM (1992) Comparative phenology and seasonal foliar nitrogen variation in mediterranean species of Portugal. Ecol Mediterr 18: 7–18Google Scholar
  4. Crawley MJ, Akhteruzzaman M (1988) Individual variation in the phenology of oak trees and its consequences for herbivorous insects. Funct Ecol 2: 409–415Google Scholar
  5. Dougherty PM, Teskey RO, Phelps JE, Hinckley TM (1979) Net photosynthesis and early growth trends of a dominant white oak (Quercus alba L.) Plant Physiol 64: 930–935Google Scholar
  6. Escudero A, del Arco JM, Moreiro MS (1987) Variation saisonnière de la production de la litière par plusieurs espèces ligneuses méditerranéennes. For Méditerr 9: 15–22Google Scholar
  7. Fonseca FMA (1989) Variação de algumas características na madeira de Pinus pinaster Ait. Thesis, Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto DouroGoogle Scholar
  8. Fritts HC (1976) Tree rings and climate. Academic Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  9. Harrington RA, Brown BJ, Reich PB (1989) Ecophysiology of exotic and native shrubs in Southern Wisconsin. I. Relationship of leaf characteristics, resource availability, and phenology to seasonal patterns of carbon gain. Oecologia 80: 356–367Google Scholar
  10. Heichel GH, Turner NC (1984) Branch growth and leaf numbers of red maple (Acer rubrum L.) and red oak (Quercus rubra L.): response to defoliation. Oecologia 62: 1–6Google Scholar
  11. Hinckley M, Bruckerhoff DN (1975) The effects of drought on water relations and stem shrinkage of Quercus alba. Can J Bot 53: 62–72Google Scholar
  12. Joffre R (1991) The dehesa: does this complex ecological system have a future? In: Teller A, Mathy P, Jeffers JNR (eds) Responses of forest ecosystems to environmental changes. Proceedings of the First European Symposium on Terrestrial Ecosystems: forests and woodlands. Elsevier, London, pp 381–388Google Scholar
  13. Jurik TM (1986) Temporal and spatial patterns of specific leaf weight in successional northern hardwood tree species. Am J Bot 73: 1083–1092Google Scholar
  14. Küppers M (1985) Carbon relations and competition between woody species in a Central European hedgerow. IV. Growth form and partitioning. Oecologia 66: 343–352Google Scholar
  15. Larcher W, Thomaser-Thin W (1988) Seasonal changes in energy content and storage patterns of mediterranean sclerophylls in a northernmost habitat. Acta Oecol 9: 271–283Google Scholar
  16. McLaughlin SB, McConathy RK (1979) Temporal and spatial patterns of carbon allocation in the canopy of white oak. Can J Bot 57: 1407–1413Google Scholar
  17. Molinas M, Caritat A (1989) Contributions for the study of longitudinal growth of cork-oak (in Spanish). Options méditerranéennes, Sér Sémin 3: 69–72Google Scholar
  18. Molinas M, Oliva M, Caritat A (1992) Comparative study of apical growth and leaf parameters in six cork-oak stands (in Spanish). Sci Gerund 18: 61–71Google Scholar
  19. Montenegro G (1987) Quantification of Mediterranean plant phenology and growth. In: Tenhunen JD, Catarino FM, Lange OL, Oechel WC (eds) Plant response to stress. Functional analysis in Mediterranean ecosystems, NATO ASI Series, vol G 15, Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 469–488Google Scholar
  20. Mooney HA, Hays RI (1973) Carbohydrate storage cycles in two Californian Mediterranean-climate trees. Flora 162: 295–304Google Scholar
  21. Mooney HA, Parsons DJ, Kummerow J (1974) Plant development in Mediterranean climates. In: Lieth H (ed) Phenology and seasonality modeling. (Ecological studies, vol 8) Chapman and Hall, London, pp 255–268Google Scholar
  22. Natividade JV (1950) Subericultura. Ministério da Economia, Direcção Geral dos Serviços Florestais e Aquicolas, LisbonGoogle Scholar
  23. Oliveira G, Correia OA, Martins-Loução MA, Catarino FM (1992) Water relations of cork oak (Quercus suber L.) under natural conditions. Vegetatio 99–100: 199–208Google Scholar
  24. Oliveira G, Werner C, Mertens C, Correia O (1993) Influencia de la posición de la copa sobre la fenología y las relaciones hídricas del alcornoque (Quercus suber L.). In: Silva-Pando FJ, Vega Alonso G (eds) Proceedings Congreso Forestal Espanõl-Lourizán 1993. Pontevedra, Spain, 14–18 June 1993, vol 1, pp 277–282Google Scholar
  25. Pereira JS, Beyschlag G, Lange OL, Beyschlag W, Tenhunen JD (1987) Comparative phenology of four mediterranean shrub species growing in Portugal. In: Tenhunen JD, Catarino FM, Lange OL, Oechel WC (eds) Plant response to stress. Functional analysis in Mediterranean ecosystems, NATO ASI Series, vol G 15, Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 503–513Google Scholar
  26. Picolo R, Terradas J (1989) Aspects of crown reconstruction and leaf morphology in Quercus ilex L. and Quercus suber L. after defoliation by Lymantria dispar L. Acta Oecol 10: 69–78Google Scholar
  27. Pilcher JR, Gray B (1982) The relationships between oak tree growth and climate in Britain. J Ecol 70: 297–304Google Scholar
  28. Salleo S, Lo Gullo MA (1990) Sclerophylly and plant water relations in three Mediterranean Quercus species. Ann Bot 65: 259–270Google Scholar
  29. Santos Loureiro NF (1990) Alguns indicadores morfo-estruturais e teores de nutrientes foliares em Quercus suber L. e Arbutus unedo L., estimados em Portugal Continental, e correlacionados com o coeficiente evaporativo de Specht. Master of Science Thesis, CI-HEAM-Instituto Agronómico Mediterraneo de Zaragoza, ZaragozaGoogle Scholar
  30. Sharifi MR, Nilsen ET, Virginia R, Rundel PW, Jarrell WM (1983) Phenological patterns of current season shoots of Prosopis glandulosa var. torreyana in the Sonoran Desert of Southern California. Flora 173: 265–277Google Scholar
  31. Tenhunen JD, Beyschlag W, Lange OL, Harley PC (1987) Changes during summer drought in leaf CO2 uptake rates of macchia shrubs growing in Portugal: limitations due to photosynthetic capacity, carboxylation efficiency, and stomatal conductance. In: Tenhunen JD, Catarino FM, Lange OL, Oechel WC (eds) Plant response to stress. Functional analysis in Mediterranean ecosystems, NATO ASI Series, vol G 15, Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 305–327Google Scholar
  32. Waller DM (1986) The dynamics of growth and form. In: Crawley MJ (ed) Plant ecology. Blackwells, Oxford, pp 291–320Google Scholar
  33. Watkinson AR, White J (1985) Some life-history consequences of modular construction in plants. Phil Trans R Soc Lond B 313: 31–51Google Scholar
  34. Witkowski ETF, Lamont BB (1991) Leaf specific mass confounds leaf density and thickness. Oecologia 88: 486–493Google Scholar
  35. Zhang SH, Romane F (1991) Variations de la croissance radiale de Quercus ilgex L. en fonction du climat. Ann Sci For 48: 225–234Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Graça Oliveira
    • 1
  • Otília Correia
    • 1
  • Maria Amélia Martins-Loução
    • 1
  • Fernando M. Catarino
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Biologia VegetalFaculdade de Ciências de LisboaLisboaPortugal

Personalised recommendations