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Salt and Drought Tolerance of Four Ornamental Grasses


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SALT AND DROUGHT TOLERANCE OF FOUR ORNAMENTAL GRASSES By ERIN ELIZABETH ALVAREZ A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCEINCE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2006 1

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Copyright 2006 by Erin Elizabeth Alvarez 2

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To my father for his unwavering pride and support 3

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank my family and friends for their constant support and love. I thank Michele Scheiber for going above and beyond the call of duty. I would also like to thank David Sandrock, and Richard Beeson for their assistance in completing this project. 4

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TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF TABLES ...........................................................................................................................7 LIST OF FIGURES .........................................................................................................................8 ABSTRACT .....................................................................................................................................9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................................11 Drought Tolerance..................................................................................................................11 Salt Tolerance.........................................................................................................................12 Objectives...............................................................................................................................13 2 LITERATURE REVIEW.......................................................................................................14 Drought Tolerance and Ornamental Grasses..........................................................................14 Need for Drought-Tolerant Plants...................................................................................14 Native/Non-native Plant Issue.........................................................................................15 Relevance.................................................................................................................15 Economic importance...............................................................................................17 Drought Stress Physiology..............................................................................................17 Salt Tolerance and Ornamental Grasses.................................................................................20 Need for Salt Tolerant Plants..........................................................................................20 Physiological and Adaptive Mechanisms........................................................................22 Plants.......................................................................................................................................23 Pennisetum alopecuroides...............................................................................................23 Miscanthus sinensis.........................................................................................................24 Eragrostis spectabilis......................................................................................................25 3 DROUGHT TOLERANCE OF TWO ORNAMENTAL GRASSES....................................26 Introduction.............................................................................................................................26 Materials and Methods...........................................................................................................27 Weather Data...................................................................................................................28 Growth Indices and Biomass...........................................................................................28 Leaf Water Potential Measurements...............................................................................29 Data Analysis...................................................................................................................29 Growth Results and Discussion..............................................................................................30 Mortality..........................................................................................................................30 Biomass...........................................................................................................................30 Shoot-to-Root Ratio.........................................................................................................31 5

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Growth Indices................................................................................................................32 Water Potentials...............................................................................................................33 Conclusions.............................................................................................................................34 4 SALT TOLERANCE OF TWO ORNAMENTAL GRASSES..............................................43 Introduction.............................................................................................................................43 Materials and Methods...........................................................................................................44 Results and Discussion...........................................................................................................45 Conclusions.............................................................................................................................47 5 CONCLUSIONS....................................................................................................................50 Drought Tolerance..................................................................................................................50 Salt Tolerance.........................................................................................................................50 LIST OF REFERENCES...............................................................................................................52 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................59 6

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LIST OF TABLES Table page 3-1 Predawn water potential, midday water potential, dusk water potential, and cumulative daily water stress integrals (S)......................................................................39 3-2 Daily maximum temperature, total incident radiation, precipitation, and reference evapotranspiration, ETo.....................................................................................................42 7

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LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 3-1 Shoot biomass gain, root biomass gain and total plant biomass gain of Eragrostis spectabilis and Miscanthus sinensis Adagio...................................................................36 3-2 Shoot to root ratio of E. spectabilis and M. sinensis Adagio..........................................37 3-3 Mean growth indices for Eragrostis spectabilis and Miscanthus sinensis Adagio.........38 3-4 Cumulative daily water stress integrals (S) for Eragrostis spectabilis and Miscanthus sinensis Adagio............................................................................................40 4-1 Shoot biomass gain, root biomass gain and whole plant biomass gain of Miscanthus sinensis Gracillimus and Pennisetum alopecuroides Hamelin.....................................48 4-2 Height, flower number, and ratings of Miscanthus sinensis Gracillimus and Pennisetum alopecuroides Hamelin.................................................................................49 8

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Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science SALT AND DROUGHT TOLERANCE OF FOUR ORNAMENTAL GRASSES By Erin Alvarez December 2006 Chair: Michele Scheiber Major Department: Horticultural Science-Environmental Horticulture Water use is the most important environmental issue facing the horticulture industry. As a result, many water management districts are recommending native plants for their putative low-water requirements. Numerous textbooks and trade journals claim native plants use less water than non-natives; however, previous research found no difference in water use efficiency in the field between native and non-native species. Furthermore, recommendations of ornamental grasses for use as low-maintenance and low-water requiring landscape plants have recently escalated. This study evaluated non-native Miscanthus sinensis Adagio and the native Eragrostis spectabilis for irrigation requirements and drought response in a landscape setting. To simulate maximum stress, both species were planted into field plots in an open-sided, clear polyethylene covered shelter. Each species was irrigated on alternating days at 0L, 0.25L, 0.5L, or 0.75L for a 90 day period. Growth index and height were recorded at biweekly intervals, and final shoot and root dry masses were taken at completion of the study. Significant treatment and species effects were found for height, growth index, shoot dry weight, and biomass. Plants receiving 0.75L of irrigation had the greatest growth and non-irrigated plants grew significantly less. Comparisons between species found growth was greatest among Eragrostis spectabilis plants for all 9

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parameters. Salt tolerant landscape plants are important to ornamental growers, landscapers and residents in coastal communities. Ornamental grasses are frequently recommended for low-maintenance landscape situations and may be candidates for coastal plantings once they are evaluated for their salt spray tolerance. Maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. Gracillimus) and fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides (L.) Spreng. Hamelin) were subjected to four treatments (100% seawater, 50% seawater, 25% seawater, or 100% deionized water) to determine salt spray tolerance. As seawater concentration increased, root, shoot, whole plant biomass gain, height, flower number, and visual quality decreased for both taxa; however, fountain grass appears to be slightly more tolerant of salt spray than maiden grass. 10

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Drought and corresponding water restrictions are forcing landscapers and consumers to seek alternative irrigation practices and plants that require minimal irrigation for survival (Knox, 1990). Ornamental grasses are generally regarded as problem free low maintenance plants (Dana, 2002), and are recommended for their putative low-water requirements. In addition to water concerns, increasing development along Floridas coastlines has created a stronger market for plants suitable for a seaside environment. Plants that can meet needs of a typical Floridian landscape must not only withstand drought, heat and humidity, but frequently must be salt tolerant as well. Drought Tolerance A large body of research exists on relationships between grasses and water use (Blicker, Olson, and Wraith, 2003; Bolger, Rivelli, and Garden 2005; Greco and Cavagnaro, 2002; Guenni, Marin, and Baruch, 2002; Mohsenzadeh, Malboobi, Razavi, and Farrahi-Aschtiani, 2006), yet research quantifying water requirements of ornamental grasses for establishment and/or maintenance in residential landscapes is limited (Zollinger, Kjelgren, Cerny-Koenig, Kopp, and Koenig, 2006). Many water management districts have recommended native plants to their consumers (SFWMD, 2001; SWFWMD, 2003) under the premise that Florida native plants use less water than non-native plants (Haehle, 2004; Hostetler, Klowden, Miller, and Youngentob, 2003; SFWMD, 2001). Limited research has been done to substantiate the assumption that native plants use less water than non-native plants. Kissel, Wilson, Bannister, and Mark (1987) examined water relations of four exotic and three native New Zealand species and found no overall difference existed between adaptation mechanisms of native and exotic species. Glenn et al. (1998) found no difference in water use efficiency between two native and 11

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two invasive riparian species from the Colorado River delta. However, Blicker et al. (2003) found that native Pseudoroegneria spicata (Scribn. And Smith) and Pascopyrum smithii (Rybd.) produced more biomass under drought conditions than invasive Centaurea maculosa (Lam). A study in Australia of seven native and three introduced perennial grass species subjected grasses to continuous drought and found mixed results among performances of native and exotic species (Bolger et al., 2005). Drought resistance may be less a function of a plants status as native or non-native, and more that of its individual physiology and natural range (Chapman and Auge, 1994). In addition, ecology of cultivated landscapes is not the same as natural environments. Plant selection should take into account individual site criteria and plants cultural requirements in addition to its native or non-native status (Anella, 2000; Knox, 1990). Salt Tolerance As of 2003, 153 million people, 53% of the United States population, lived in the nations 673 coastal counties (Crossett, Culliton, Wiley, and Goodspeed, 2005). As development increases landscape plants that tolerate coastal conditions become critically important to the ornamental landscape industry. Researchers have documented injury from airborne salts to plants growing near the coast (Edwards and Holmes, 1968; Karschon, 1964; Malloch, 1972). Exposure to water with high salt content reduces or inhibits plant growth (Belligno, Cutore, Di Leo, Sardo, and Brancato, 2002a; Belligno, LaLoggia, Sambuco, Sardo, and Brancato, 2002b; Marcum, 2001; Qian, Wilhelm, and Marcum, 2001). Much of the research done in salinity tolerance concerns saline soil or saline irrigation (Alshammary, Qian, and Wallner, 2003; Belligno et al., 2002a, 2002b; Gulzar, Khan, and Ungar, 2003; Hunter and Wu, 2005; Marcum and Murdoch, 1994; Marcum, Pessarakli, and Kopec, 2005), but little research has focused on exposure to salt spray under non-saline irrigation conditions. It is well documented that plants are often more sensitive to saline spray than to salt 12

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applied at the root zone (Benes, Aragues, Grattan, and Austin, 1996; Bernstein and Francois, 1975; Grattan, Mass, and Ogata, 1981; Grattan, Royo, and Aragues,1994; Westcot and Ayers, 1984). In addition, much of the research done assesses survival rates of plants under saline conditions, but few studies consider the aesthetic value of the plants after foliage is exposed to water with high concentrations of salt (Marcum et al., 2005). For landscape plantings to be successful, they must not only survive but meet high aesthetic standards. Many publications list suitable salt-tolerant ornamental landscape plants, but little quantified information exists for the salt tolerance of individual ornamental grass species. Objectives The objectives of this study were to evaluate two ornamental grasses for drought response in a landscape setting and to determine effects of salt spray on appearance, flower number, growth and mortality of two ornamental grasses 13

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CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Water availability is the primary limiting factor for ornamental landscapes (Chapman and Auge, 1994; Scheiber and Beeson, 2006). Drought and corresponding water restrictions are forcing landscapers and consumers to look for alternative irrigation practices and plants that will survive low-water conditions. Ornamental grasses are generally regarded as problem free low maintenance plants (Dana, 2002), and are commonly recommended to the public for their putative low-water requirements in landscapes. Most grasses suited for Florida are C 4 plants adapted to withstand tropical weather conditions and low-water environments (Taiz and Zeiger, 2002). A large body of research exists on relationships between grasses and water use, yet research quantifying water requirements of ornamental grasses for establishment and/or maintenance in residential landscapes is limited (Zollinger et al., 2006). Studies comparing the water usage of native Florida grasses and non-native grasses have not been conducted. In addition to water concerns, increasing development along Floridas coastlines has created a stronger market for plants suitable for a seaside environment. Plants that can meet the needs of a typical Florida landscape must not only withstand drought, heat and humidity, but frequently must be salt tolerant as well. Drought Tolerance and Ornamental Grasses Need for Drought-Tolerant Plants Landscape consumption of potable water has been a source of scrutiny and has resulted in water restrictions across the United States. According to the Environmental Protection Agency irrigation accounts for 81% of fresh water consumption in the U.S (Environmental Protection Agency, 1995). Increasingly, counties and water management districts in Florida are implementing partial bans on outdoor water use, including landscape irrigation (SWFWMD, 14

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2003). With water becoming less available for non-essential uses such as landscape irrigation, demand for low-water use landscapes is increasing. Ornamental plants serve an aesthetic as well as functional role, so selected plants should be able to withstand drought and still be visually appealing in landscapes. As yet, water requirements and drought responses for ornamental plants are not yet well defined for a large number of species, especially herbaceous perennials (Zollinger et al., 2006). In many cases, drought tolerance assessment for grasses is based on forage yield (Bolger et al., 2005, Greco and Cavagnaro, 2002; Guenni et al., 2002), or physiological assessment of turfgrass cultivars (Huang and Gao, 1999; Perdomo, Murphy, and Berkowitz, 1996). Similar to yield measurements of agricultural and forage crops, success of ornamental landscapes can be determined by biomass accumulation and growth indices. However, plants in landscapes serve a different purpose than agronomic crops, and subjective criteria such as aesthetic appeal are often the benchmark for performance (Kjelgren, Rupp, and Kjelgren, 2000). Native/Non-native Plant Issue Relevance Many Florida water management districts have recommended native plants to their consumers (SFWMD, 2001; SWFWMD, 2003) under the premise that Florida native plants use less water than non-native plants (Haehle, 2004; Hostetler et al., 2003; SFWMD, 2001). Furthermore, species categorized as invasive and hazardous to Floridas ecology have been outlawed (FL Statute 581.185). The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council has defined the following terms to describe the role of plants in Floridas ecosystem (FLEPPC, 2006): Exotic a species introduced to Florida, purposefully or accidentally, from a natural range outside of Florida; Native a species whose natural range included Florida at the time of European contact (1500AD); Invasive exotic an exotic that not only has naturalized but is expanding on its own 15

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in Florida plant communities. Plants found to be overly aggressive by displacing native plants and animals have been labeled as invasive, and plants existing in Florida at the time of European contact have become native. These definitions have led to research into roles of invasive and native plants in ecosystems and potential physiological traits that make invasive plants prolific and native plants well-adapted to Florida. However, little research has been done to substantiate assumptions that native plants use less water than non-native plants, that natives are better for ecosystems in residential settings, or that native plants generally perform better with less maintenance than non-natives. In addition, cultivated residential landscapes are significantly altered by human use and development, and bear little resemblance to native landscapes (Knox, 1990). Kissel et al. (1987) examined water relations of four exotic and three native New Zealand species and found that no overall difference existed between adaptation mechanisms of native and exotic species. Glenn et al. (1998) found no difference in water use efficiency between two native and two invasive riparian species from the Colorado River delta. Blicker et al. (2003) found native Pseudoroegneria spicata (Scribn. and Smith) and Pascopyrum smithii (Rybd.) produced more biomass under drought conditions than invasive Centaurea maculosa (Lam.), refuting the hypothesis that greater water use efficiency is key to successes of invasive species in an ecosystem. A study in Australia of seven native and three introduced perennial grass species subjected grasses to continuous drought and found native species survived for both the longest and shortest periods of time, with exotic species falling intermediate (Bolger et al., 2005). Drought resistance may be less a function of a plants status as native or non-native, and more that of its individual physiology and natural range (Chapman and Auge, 1994). In addition, cultivated landscapes are not the same as natural environments, and plant selection should take 16

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into account site criteria and an individual plants cultural requirements in addition to its native or non-native status (Anella, 2000; Knox, 1990). Consequently, research is needed to determine which ornamental grass species are truly suited for low-water cultivated landscapes, and which of those species are able to withstand drought conditions while maintaining landscape value through aesthetic appeal. Economic importance A recent trend in residential landscaping has been to eliminate all non-native plants in favor of natives that are championed as being not only more water efficient, but better for the local ecology (Haehle, 2004; Hostetler et al., 2003; SWFWMD 2001). Relative sales of native and exotic plants in Florida are as yet undetermined due to a lack of tracking of individual plant sales. More information is needed to determine economic impacts of eliminating non-native plants from the nursery industry (Fox, Gordon, Dusky, Tyson, and Stocker, 2004). Drought Stress Physiology Plants adapt to water stress in one of three ways. First is an ability to maintain tissue hydration under water stress via two strategies. Water savers use water conservatively so that not all soil moisture is depleted. Water spenders use water aggressively, often to the deprivation of surrounding plants. Second is an ability of a plant to function while dehydrated, and includes several acclimation strategies discussed below. The third level of adaptation is drought escape, in which plants complete their life cycles during wet seasons, thereby completely avoiding situations of water stress (Taiz and Zeiger, 2002). For plants that cannot escape drought, they must adapt to survive. Non-succulent plants are unable to physically store large quantities of water in their tissues, and so they must undergo alterations to physiological processes to conserve water. These plants have a complex, often interrelated system of managing water deficit. A standard sequence of physiological events occurs when water stress 17

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develops gradually (Hsiao, 1973). This sequence begins with the response most sensitive to water deficit and progresses to those processes that respond to only the most severe water deficit. First in this sequence, and most sensitive to reduced water, is cellular growth. A decrease in water potential outside of a cell results in a perceptible decrease in cell growth and therefore a decrease in growth of roots and shoots (Neumann, VanVolkenburgh, and Cleland, 1988; Sakurai and Kuraishi, 1988). This adaptation is likely the cause for an often-observed water stress response of an overall decrease in plant growth and biomass. Water stress can reduce biomass in some species of grasses by 60% (Fernandez, Wang, and Reynolds, 2002). Inhibition of cell expansion is followed by a reduction in cell wall and protein biosynthesis, enzyme activity, and cell division (Salisbury and Ross, 1992). These responses cumulatively result in a decrease of leaf area. Water stress decreases cell expansion, which slows leaf expansion, which in turn reduces transpiring leaf area and thereby conserves water supply over a longer time period. Drought studies on herbaceous species have repeatedly shown that leaf expansion and morphological and allocation variables are more sensitive to water stress than leaf conductance and instantaneous carbon gain (Kalapos, van Den Boogard, and Lambers, 1996; Kramer and Boyer, 1996; Sadras and Milroy, 1996). Because of this, a measure of the leaf area is the main determinant of maximum relative growth rate, rather than net carbon assimilation rate (Hunt and Cornelissen, 1997). Some species of plants respond to water stress by allocating proportionally more biomass to roots and less to leaves and by producing leaves of smaller area:weight ratio than those under well-watered conditions (Fernandez et al., 2002). However, if plants become stressed for water after a certain leaf area has developed, leaves will simply senesce and fall off in response to increased ethylene synthesis (Taiz and Zeiger, 2002). 18

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Second in response to water deficit is root extension. Root:shoot biomass ratio is partially maintained by a balance between root water uptake and shoot photosynthesis. Shoots will grow until water uptake by roots becomes limiting, and roots will grow until assimilates provided by shoots are limiting. When water deficit occurs, the top few inches of soil begin to dry, so roots grow into soil zones that still retain water. As root tips grow, assimilates must be allocated to them. However, when plants are in the reproductive stage, photosynthates go to the developing fruits first, which may explain why plants are more susceptible to drought during reproduction (Taiz and Zeiger, 2002). When water deficit continues to increase, stomatal closure occurs. This response reduces evaporation from existing leaf area, which is especially useful when stress develops quickly or when a plant has achieved its full leaf area before stress occurs, making reduced leaf expansion a useless stress response. Stomata may close passively due to a loss in guard cell turgor from water evaporation to the atmosphere, or actively when leaves or roots are dehydrated and a reduction in solute content of guard cells causes closure (Taiz and Zeiger, 2002). Chemical signals from roots may also affect stomatal responses to water stress (Bohnert, Nelson, and Jensen, 1995; Davies, Wilkinson, and Loveys, 2002). Eventually, photosynthesis begins to decrease as mesophyll cells become dehydrated and metabolism is impaired. Translocation of assimilates is unaffected until late in the stress period to allow plants to utilize their reserves when necessary (Taiz and Zeiger, 2002). However, at the highest levels of water stress, respiration, translocation, and CO 2 assimilation drop to levels near zero (Salisbury and Ross, 1992). Most plants undergo some variation on water deficit responses. All plants have genetic encoding for stress perception, signaling and response, and a wide variety of species express a 19

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common set of genes and similar proteins when stressed (Flowers and Flowers, 2002). No evidence has been found to date that distinguishes native from non-native plants where water stress responses are concerned. Some herbaceous ornamentals adapt to drought through drought avoidance mechanisms such as leaf senescence when water is limiting (Zollinger et al., 2006). Reduction in dry mass has been found to be a common experimental result of drought stress. Guenni et al. (2002) found a reduction in dry mass for Brachiaria brizantha (A. Rich.) Stapf, an African neotropical grass, when exposed to moderate drought stress. Drought-stressed Gaillardia aristata Pursh showed a reduced dry mass of 50% and 84%, and dry mass of Leucanthemum superbum (Bergmans ex J.Ingram) Soreng & E.A.Cope was reduced by 47% and 99% when exposed to 2and 4-week irrigation intervals (Zollinger et al., 2006). Greco and Cavagnaro (2002) subjected three varieties of the native Argentinean grass Trichloris crinita (Laq.) Parodi to drought conditions, all of which showed significantly reduced total dry mass as compared to controls receiving optimal irrigation. Salt Tolerance and Ornamental Grasses Need for Salt Tolerant Plants As of 2003, 153 million people, or 53% of the United States population, lived in the nations 673 coastal counties (Crossett et al., 2005). As development and growth of coastal areas increase, landscape plants that can tolerate harsh coastal conditions become critically important to the ornamental landscape industry. Observations have been made of both naturally occurring coastal vegetation and installed seaside landscape plants being injured by airborne salts (Edwards and Holmes, 1968; Karschon, 1964; Malloch, 1972). Marcum (1999) and Belligno et al., (2002a) observed increased leaf firing, defined as the percent of dead or chlorotic tissue, with increasing salinity of irrigation water. Irrigation water with high salt content has been found to reduce or 20

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inhibit plant growth (Marcum 2001; Qian et al.,2001). Ashraf, McNeilly, and Bradshaw, (1986) found that in both control and selected lines of four grass species, dry biomass and tiller number were greatly reduced with increasing exposure to salinity. Dry and fresh biomasses of forage grasses have been found to decrease with increasing percentages of seawater in irrigation applications (Belligno et al., 2002a, 2002b). Many publications list suitable salt-tolerant ornamental landscape plants, but little quantified information exists for salt tolerance of individual ornamental grass species. The majority of research done in salinity tolerance concerns saline soil or saline irrigation. Hunter and Wu (2005) tested five ornamental grass species for tolerance to saline irrigation water, and found no significant difference between control and saline treatments in four of five species. Glenn et al. (1998) subjected six native and non-native riparian species to varying levels of soil salinity and found a wide variety of tolerance levels among species. Four turfgrass species grown in saline hydroponic solution or under saline irrigation were found to have a 50% reduction in root and shoot growth at varying salinity levels (Alshammary et al., 2004). Gulzar et al. (2003) found reduced growth and dry mass with increasing soil and irrigation salinity for the halophytic coastal salt marsh grass Urochondra setulosa (Trin.). Marcum (1999) exposed a wide variety of turfgrass and forage genera to saline solution culture to test salinity tolerance of Chloridoideae. Overhead saline irrigation was found to reduce yield through foliar injury in pepper plants (Maas, Clark, and Francois, 1982). Westcot and Ayers (1984) examined effects of saline irrigation through reclaimed wastewater and found high levels of salinity were detrimental to yield of several food crops. Despite the fact that plants are often more sensitive to saline spray than to salt applied at the root zone, relatively little research examines exposure to salt spray under non-saline 21

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irrigation conditions. Benes et al. (1996) and Grattan et al. (1981, 1994) found that saline spray exposure resulted in a greater biomass reduction than soil salinity in barley. Bernstein and Francois (1975) found that a reduction in yield of alfalfa was greater under saline irrigation than under saline soil conditions. In addition, much of the research done assessed survival rates of ornamental grasses under saline conditions, but few studies considered aesthetic value of plants after foliage was exposed to water with high concentrations of NaCl (Marcum et al., 2005). For landscape plantings to be successful, they must not only survive but meet high aesthetic standards. Physiological and Adaptive Mechanisms Salt tolerance is a complex trait regulated by a number of genes (Barkla, VeraEstrella, and Pantoja, 1999; Flowers, Hajibagheri, and Clipson, 1986; Gorham, 1992). In crop plants, salt tolerance varies widely among species and varieties (Francois and Mass, 1993; Maas, 1990). Plants that are able to complete their life cycles under saline conditions with enhanced growth at moderate salinity, and are able to survive up to 340 mol m -3 NaCl are defined as halophytes (Khan, Unger, and Showalter, 1999). Research has been conducted to investigate how halophytes are able to adapt to highly saline conditions, largely in an effort to use their adaptive traits to introduce their adaptive mechanisms into non-halophytic plants (Flowers and Flowers, 2002). Salt stress can both reduce (Glenn et al., 1998; Greenway and Munns, 1980) and enhance (Hester, Mendelssohn, and McKee, 2001) growth rates of both halophytic and non-halophytic (glycophytic) plants. In addition, low to moderate salt stress has been found to increase root biomass (Ben-Asher and Silberbush, 1992; Rozema and Visser, 1981; Waisel, 1985) and accelerate reproductive growth stages (Dhingra and Varghese, 1997; Grieve, Francois, and Maas, 1994; Munns and Rawson, 1999). Grattan et al. (1994) found an increase in overall proportion of total shoot biomass devoted to flowering in barley. In halophytic plants, biomass attributes may 22

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not be affected by salt tolerance, because they have physiological and/or morphological mechanisms that would allow for salt resistance, such as selective ion exclusion and secretion (Hester et al., 2001; Hunter and Wu, 2005). Salt tolerance requires compartmentalization and compatible solutes (Hall, Harvey, and Flowers, 1978; Harvey, Hall, Flowers, and Kent, 1981; Larher, Jolivet, Briens, and Goas, 1982), regulation of transpiration (Clipson and Flowers, 1987), control of leakage across the apoplast (Yeo and Flowers, 1986), and tolerance of low potassium to sodium ratios within the cell (Flowers and Dalmond, 1992). Some plants have salt glands which help maintain an acceptable salt level in the leaves (Flowers and Yeo, 1986). It has been suggested that a faster growth rate in halophytic plants allows for more mature tissue to be available for storage of excess salts away from new growth areas (Hunter and Wu, 2005). However, it is widely held that the symptoms of salt injury are from either osmotic effects or from the toxicity of saline ions (Hunter and Wu, 2005), although the role of each is less well understood (Bernstein and Hayward, 1958). Greenway and Munns (1980) suggested that compartmentalization of saline ions is the most important criteria for achieving salt tolerance in many higher plants. Plants Pennisetum alopecuroides Pennisetum alopecuroides (L.) Spreng., chinese fountain grass, is a member of Poaceae, Subfamily Panicoideae, Tribe Paniceae (USDA, NRCS 2006). It is a C4 grassland plant, native to Asia and Australia, is best suited for USDA cold hardiness zones 5, and is used in cultivation as a specimen plant. Pennisetum alopecuroides grows best in full sun in evenly moist, well-drained soils, but can adapt to various soil types. It is readily propagated by division, and is moderately self-sowing by seed (Darke, 1999). Pennisetum alopecuroides is a fine-textured, mounding perennial ornamental grass that reaches to about 1m tall by 1m wide, with medium23

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green thin (0.25 wide) foliage which radiates from basal crowns. Inflorescences are lime green to violet 12.7cm (5 inch) long foxtail-like spikes, borne above the foliage in late summer (Darke, 1999). Pennisetum alopecuroides Hamelin is a compact, mounding form of the species which grows up to 50.4 cm (20 inches) tall by 91 cm (36 inches) wide. Foliage is medium green, and flowers are cream-colored. Hardy in USDA zones 6aa, fall foliage turns yellow and persists through winter. Pennisetum alopecuroides Hamelin is widely sold in the nursery trade due to its compact habit and early flowering time that begins about two weeks earlier than the species (Darke, 1999). Miscanthus sinensis Miscanthus sinensis Anderss., also known as chinese silver grass, eulalia, or maiden grass, is a member of Poaceae, Subfamily Panicoideae, Tribe Andropogonae. It is a C4 plant native to tropical and temperate Asia, and is naturalized throughout the Americas, including most of the United States (USDA, NRCS 2006). It grows best in full sun, and can adapt to various soil textures and moisture levels. It is considered heatand drought-tolerant, and is hardy in USDA zones 5. Miscanthus sinensis is a medium to large perennial ornamental grass (size is dependent on cultivar) reaching anywhere from 0.9.5m (3 feet) tall by 0.6.8m (2 feet) wide. It has an upright columnar to vase-shaped habit. Leaf size varies by cultivar, ranging from 0.6 cm (0.25 inches) wide and 0.9.5 m (3-5 feet) long. Leaves are medium green with or without silver, white, cream, or yellow variegation, depending on cultivar. Inflorescences resemble tassels and are borne above foliage, differing greatly by cultivar in time of emergence, color, location relative to foliage, and size. Miscanthus sinensis, with its numerous cultivars, is one of the most common ornamental grasses used in cultivation (Darke, 1999). 24

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Miscanthus sinensis Gracillimus is a fine-textured densely arched selection with 0.6 cm wide medium-green leaves, reaching up to 2.5 m (8 feet) in height. It bears pink inflorescences in the fall (Darke, 1999). Miscanthus sinensis Adagio is a fine-textured medium sized cultivar with 0.6 cm (0.25 inch) wide medium green leaves with a silver midrib. It reaches up to 1.5 m (5 feet) in height, and bears gold to pink inflorescences in late summer (Darke, 1999). Eragrostis spectabilis Eragrostis spectabilis (Pursh) Steud., purple lovegrass, is a member of Poaceae, Subfamily Chlorioideae, Tribe Eragrostidae (USDA, NRCS 2006). It is a native perennial clumping grass found in dry, sandy and disturbed sites throughout USDA zones 5 in the central and eastern U.S., Canada and Northern Mexico (Wunderlin and Hansen, 2003). Eragrostis spectabilis is a C4 plant that spreads by rhizomes, grows best in full sun, and is tolerant of drought and a wide range of soil types. In Florida, E. spectabilis is most often found in upland, non-wetland sites (US Fish & Wildlife Service, 1988). It is classified as an invasive plant in Nebraska and the Great Plains by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (Stubbendieck, 1994). Eragrostis spectabilis has medium-green 1 cm (0.4 inch) wide foliage reaching 46 cm (18 inches) in height. The plant has a spiky, slightly coarse texture in landscapes. Purple-red spike inflorescences are borne above foliage in late summer to early fall, creating a floating cloud effect above the leaves that is prized for its aesthetic value in landscapes (Darke, 1999). 25

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CHAPTER 3 DROUGHT TOLERANCE OF TWO ORNAMENTAL GRASSES Introduction Drought and corresponding water restrictions are forcing landscapers and consumers to seek alternative irrigation practices and plants that require minimal irrigation for survival (Knox, 1990). Ornamental grasses are generally regarded as problem-free low maintenance plants (Dana, 2002), and are recommended to the public for their putative low-water requirements. A large body of research exists on the relationship between grasses and water use (Blicker et al., 2003; Bolger et al., 2005; Greco and Cavagnaro, 2002; Guenni et al., 2002; Mohsenzadeh et al., 2006), yet research quantifying water requirements of ornamental grasses for establishment and/or maintenance in the residential landscape is limited (Zollinger et al., 2006). Many water management districts have recommended native plants to their consumers (SFWMD, 2001; SWFWMD, 2003) under the premise that Florida native plants use less water than non-native plants (Haehle, 2004; Hostetler et al., 2003; SFWMD, 2001). Limited research has been done to substantiate this assumption that native plants use less water than non-native plants. Kissel et al. (1987) examined water relations of four exotic and three native New Zealand species and found no overall difference existed between adaptation mechanisms of native and exotic species. Glenn et al. (1998) found no difference in water use efficiency between two native and two invasive riparian species from the Colorado River delta. However, Blicker et al. (2003) found that native Pseudoroegneria spicata (Scribn. And Smith) and Pascopyrum smithii (Rybd.) produced more biomass under drought conditions than invasive Centaurea maculosa (Lam). A study in Australia of seven native and three introduced perennial grass species subjected grasses to continuous drought and found mixed results among performance of native and exotic species (Bolger et al., 2005). Drought resistance may be less a function of a plants status as native or 26

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non-native, and more that of its individual physiology and natural range (Chapman and Auge, 1994). In addition, ecology of cultivated landscapes is not the same as natural environments. Plant selection should take into account individual site criteria and plants cultural requirements in addition to their native or non-native status (Anella, 2000; Knox, 1990). The objective of this study was to evaluate non-native Miscanthus sinensis Anderss Adagio, a 1.5 m tall fine-textured C4 grass native to Asia, and the Florida native Eragrostis spectabilis (Pursh) Steud., a 0.5 m medium-textured grass, for drought response in a landscape setting. Materials and Methods On 25 April, 2005, 6.3 cm liners of E. spectabilis and M. sinensis Adagio were planted in native soil (Apopka fine sand series) in an open-sided clear polyethylene covered shelter approximately 4 m tall at the University of Florida Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Florida (lat. 28N, long. 81W). Thirty-two plants of each species were planted to original container depth in six rows on 0.6 m centers in 1.5 m wide strips in a randomized complete block design with four replicates. Planting rows were covered with 7.5-10 cm pine bark nuggets to a depth of 7.6 cm (Sunrise Landscape Supply, Inc., Orlando, Fla.). Areas between strips were covered with 0.9 m wide strips of polypropylene ground cloth (BWI Companies, Inc., Apopka, Fla.) to inhibit weed growth. Prior to transplant, soil under the shelter was saturated to a depth of 0.9 m. Four levels of irrigation treatments were applied: 0L, 0.25L, 0.50L, and 0.75L. Irrigation was applied on alternate days for a 90 day period through 25 mm polyethylene pipe and 90 gray spray stakes (Roberts Irrigation Products, San Marcos, Calif.). Pressure compensators (Bowsmith Super-Drip N.D., Exeter, Calif.) were placed inline for each emitter to regulate water flow at 6.8 L/h. Two spray stakes were placed 0.46 m apart in the northwest and southeast directions to cover a 0.21 m 2 area around each plant. The Christiansen Coefficient of Uniformity 27

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was a minimum of 0.77 prior to planting (Haman, Smaljstra, and Pitt, 1996). Irrigation of each experimental unit was controlled as a separate zone using an automated irrigation time clock (Model Sterling 12, Superior Controls Co., Inc., Valencia, Calif.). Irrigations began at 0500 HR and were completed by 0600 HR each day. Flow meters (Model C700TP, ABS, Ocala, Fla.) were installed for each zone to record irrigation volumes Monday through Friday. Weather Data Weather data were obtained from a weather station site at the research site. Reference evapotranspiration (ET o ) was calculated daily by a CR10X data logger (Campbell Scientific, Logan, UT, USA) using a program supplied in Campbells Application Note 4D. This program calculates ET o on an hourly basis using the ASCE Penman-Monteith equation with resistances (Allen et al. 1989). Input for ET o calculations were measured with a pyranometer (Li-190, Li-Cor Inc., Lincoln, Neb. USA), anemometer (014, Met-One Instruments, Meford, Ore., USA), and temperature/humidity sensor (HMP45C-L, Campbell Scientific). Rainfall was recorded with a tipping bucket rain gauge (TE525, Texas Instruments, Dallas, TX, USA). Each midnight, the data logger calculated daily ET o Growth Indices and Biomass. At planting, 6 plants of each species were partitioned into roots and shoots, washed to remove substrate, dried at 70C for 168 h and weighed to obtain initial shoot and root dry mass values. Plant height, widest canopy width (width 1), and width perpendicular to the widest width (width 2) were recorded to calculate growth indices (growth index = height width 1 width 2) at transplant and every 14 d after planting. On 27 July 2005, the southernmost grass of each replication, the plant not used for water potential readings, was destructively harvested. Shoots were removed to the crown. To obtain root biomass gain, 1/4 segments of the soil volume outside of the root ball and extending beyond the longest root in each quadrant were removed 28

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from the northeast and southwest sides of each plant. Substrate or soil was removed from roots, and shoots and roots were processed as described above. Dry masses of northeast and southeast segments were summed and multiplied by 2 to obtain total root biomass gain. Average initial root dry mass in the root ball and total root biomass gain were summed to obtain an estimated total root dry mass for calculation of shoot-to-root ratios. Shoot biomass gain was calculated as the difference between total shoot dry mass at final harvest and initial shoot dry mass. Total biomass gain was calculated as described for shoot biomass gain. Shoot-to-root ratios were calculated by dividing total shoot dry mass by total root dry mass. Leaf Water Potential Measurements Beginning 1 month after transplant (MAT), on 23 May 2005, leaf water potential ( T ) was measured monthly. Measurements were made at predawn, mid-day, and dusk on the day prior to irrigation (stressed) and the day of irrigation (unstressed). Leaf water potential was determined with a pressure chamber (Model 3000; Soil Moisture Equipment Corp., Santa Barbara, Calif.) using compressed N, with pressure increasing at a rate of 25 kPas. Measurements were made on individual grass blades ( 10 cm long) taken from the northernmost plant of each replication. As described by Schulze et al. (1980) and Beeson (1992), cumulative daily water stress integrals (S) were calculated as the integrated area over a water potential curve and absolute value taken for each replication on each sampling date. Data Analysis The experiment was conducted as a randomized complete block design with four blocks of single plant replicates. Regression equations were calculated for final growth data, consisting of shoot dry mass gain, root dry mass gain, biomass gain and shoot-to-root ratios as a function of irrigation rate for each species. Regression equations were also calculated for growth indices over time at each irrigation rate for each species. For final growth data, where at least one of the 29

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regression lines were non-linear; data were analyzed as a 2 4 factorial with two species and four irrigation rates. Similarly for growth indices, data was additionally analyzed as repeated measures by species due to non-linear responses over time. Analysis was by split plot, with irrigation rate as the main plot and month after transplanting as the subplot. Cumulative water stress integral values, predawn T midday T dusk T were analyzed as repeated measures using a split plot design with irrigation frequency as the main plot, species as a subplot, and stress day as a sub-subplot (Snedecor and Cochran, 1980). Each sampling date was analyzed separately. Where significant differences were indicated, mean separation was by Fishers Protected least significance differences (F-Protected LSD, Snedecor and Cochran, 1980). All analysis was conducted using SAS (Version 9.1.3, SAS Institute, Cary, NC). Growth Results and Discussion Mortality By 3 MAT, 75% and 25% of non-irrigated M. sinensis Adagio and E. spectabilis plants, respectively, were dead. E. spectabilis plants receiving 0.25L per event had a 50% mortality rate. Biomass Biomass gain of both M. sinensis Adagio and E. spectabilis increased with increasing irrigation rates (Fig. 3-1AC). Shoot, root, and total biomass gain of M. sinensis Adagio and root gain of E. spectabilis increased quadratically while shoot and total biomass gain of E. spectabilis increased linearly (Fig. 3-1AC). Shoot biomass gain was greatest at 0.75L treatments and lowest for non-irrigated plants. Shoot biomass gain of E. spectabilis was greater (P<0.01) than M. sinensis Adagio for the 0.25L and 0.50L treatments, and similar (P>0.05) at 0L and 0.75L treatments (Fig. 3-1A). The 0.75L treatment increased shoot biomass gain of E. spectabilis by 131% and M. sinensis Adagio by 404% relative to plants receiving 0.25L. 30

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A treatment species interaction (P<0.05) occurred for root biomass gain. Root biomass gains decreased with decreasing irrigation levels. At 0L and 0.25L treatments, root biomass gain of E. spectabilis was higher than M. sinensis Adagio (Fig. 3-1B). M. sinensis Adagio irrigated at 0.75L per event had the greatest root biomass gains, with the lowest gains occurring in non-irrigated plants. Irrigation rates of 0.75L resulted in greater (P<0.0001) total biomass gain than the 0L treatment. Total biomass gain of E. spectabilis was greater (P<0.015) than M. sinensis Adagio (Fig. 3-1C). Average total biomass gain of E. spectabilis was greater than M. sinensis Adagio, by 74%, 176%, and 306% for the 0.75L, 0.50L, and 0.25L treatments, respectively (Fig. 3-1C). Observed decreases in biomass with decreased irrigation quantities are well documented. Guenni et al. (2002) recorded a reduction in dry weight for Brachiaria brizantha (A. Rich.), an african neotropical grass, when it was subjected to moderate drought stress. Dry weights of drought-stressed Gaillardia aristata Pursh were reduced by 50% and 84%, and dry weights of Leucanthemum superbum ( Bergmans ex J.Ingram) Soreng & E.A.Cope were reduced by 47% and 99%, respectively when exposed to 2and 4-week intervals in irrigation (Zollinger et al., 2006). Greco and Cavagnaro (2002) subjected three varieties of native argentinean grass Trichloris crinita (Laq.) Parodi to drought conditions, all of which showed significantly reduced total dry weight as compared to controls receiving optimal irrigation. Fernandez et al. (2002) found a 60% reduction in biomass of drought stressed Bouteloua eriopoda Torr. and Eragrostis lehmanniana Nees. Shoot-to-Root Ratio Shoot-to-root ratios of E. spectabilis were larger (P<0.0001) than M. sinensis Adagio for all irrigation treatments (Fig. 3-2) with ratios of M. sinensis Adagio represented quadratically, and E. spectabilis linearly. Ratios were similar (P>0.05) among treatments for M. sinensis 31

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Adagio. Eragrostis spectabilis plants irrigated with 0.75L had higher (P<0.05) Shoot-to-root ratios than non-irrigated plants. All other treatments were similar (P>0.05). This is consistent with Greco and Cavagnaro (2003), who found no significant difference in shoot-to-root ratios between levels of drought stressed T. crinita. Growth Indices Mean growth indices for both species at 0.25L, 0.50L, and 0.75L irrigation treatments generally increased over time. Mean growth indices for the non-irrigated plants decreased over time (Fig. 3-3AB). For E. spectabilis, growth indices for 0.25L, 0.50L, and 0.75L treatments, respectively increased by 28%, 49% and 71%. Growth indices of M. sinensis Adagio receiving 0.25L, 0.50L, and 0.75L increased by 2-, 4-, and 8-fold, respectively. However, at 0L and 0.25L treatment rates, mean growth indices of both species decreased between 2 MAT and 3 MAT (Fig. 3-3AB). Reduced shoot growth and decreased cell elongation are common effects of drought stress, having been observed in multiple experiments (Kalapos et al., 1996; Kramer and Boyer, 1996; Neumann et al., 1988; Sadras and Milroy, 1996; Sakurai and Kuraishi, 1988). In addition, significant leaf necrosis was observed with low irrigation levels. Zollinger et al., (2006) observed leaf death and senescence as a drought avoidance mechanism in herbaceous perennials. An irrigation rate MAT interaction (P <0.05) was found for both species. Growth responses corresponded to biomass gains with greater canopy size at higher application rates (Fig. 3-1AC; Fig. 3-3AB). For both species, canopy size was greatest (P<0.05) at 0.75L and smallest within the 0L treatment. At 3 MAT, the 0.75L treatment increased mean growth index of E. spectabilis by 3.75 times relative to the 0L treatment and M. sinensis Adagio by 7.5 times relative to the 0.25L treatment. 32

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Water Potentials Treatment effects only occurred twice during the experiment. An irrigation effect was observed at 2 MAT for the midday T where 0L (-1.7 MPa) and 0.25L (-1.6 MPa) treatments were similar (P>0.05) yet more negative (P<0.05) than 0.50L (-1.2 MPa) and 0.75L (-1.2 MPa) treatments. At 3 MAT, S was greater (P < 0.05) for non-irrigated plants (24.0 MPah) compared to grasses receiving 0.25, 0.50, and 0.75L (19.3, 16.7, and 16.1 MPah, respectively). Cumulative water stress was comparable (P>0.05) between 0.75L and 0.50L treatments. For both sampling periods, T became more negative as irrigation amount decreased, suggesting higher stress levels occurred as less water was applied to plants. Species effects were seen at 2 MAT and 3 MAT for predawn, midday and dusk readings; each time, T was more negative for E. spectabilis than for M. sinensis Adagio except for 2 MAT predawn (Table 3-1). Cumulative water stress was greater (P < 0.05) for E. spectabilis at 2 MAT than M. sinensis Adagio (Table 3-1). Higher shoot-to-root ratios of E. spectabilis would account for increased water stress due to the inability of the root system to compensate for transpirational water losses (Gilman et al., 1998; Montague et al., 2000). A stress day species interaction was observed in S at 1 and 3 MAT (Fig. 3-4). At 2 MAT, there were no differences between stress days, but E. spectabilis had higher S than M. sinensis. At 1 MAT, S was highest for E. spectabilis on the day prior to irrigation (stress day) and lowest for E. spectabilis on the irrigation day (unstressed day). Cumulative water stress results were intermediate for M. sinensis Adagio with comparable values between stressed and unstressed days. Results were similar for M. sinensis Adagio at 3 MAT except regardless of stress day, S was higher for E. spectabilis compared to M. sinensis Adagio (P<0.05). For E. spectabilis, S was higher on the unstressed day (24.9 MPah) than on the stressed day (19.7 MPah), (P < 0.01) (Fig. 3-4). The results were likely due to weather effects. Around 1630 HR on 33

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28 July 05, a 27 mm rainfall event (Table 3-2) occurred that reduced daily reference evapotranspiration (ETo), solar radiation (Table 3-2) and mid-afternoon vapor pressure deficits (VPD) (Fig. 3-5) compared to the unstressed day. Data suggest that stomatal conductance was reduced and caused E. spectabilis to transpire less. Consequently, plants displayed reduced cumulative water potential relative to a sunny, hot day when transpiration rates could be faster and S higher. Similar results were reported by Fernandez et al. (2002), where improved leaf water status was seen with reduced stomatal conductance. Although reduction in stomatal conductance is a known effect of drought stress, it is also a known effect of decreased solar radiation and temperature reduction (Taiz and Zeiger, 2002). In this case, weather conditions appear to have caused a reduction in stomatal conduction of E. spectabilis, resulting in less negative water potentials. Conclusions Across treatments, both grasses showed similar trends with increased biomass gain and growth index with increasing irrigation rates (Fig. 3-1AC; Fig. 3-3AB). The greatest portion of biomass gain for both species was shoot biomass, and little species effect was seen on root biomass gain. Shoot biomass gain of E. spectabilis was greater (P<0.05) than M. sinensis Adagio across all treatments (Fig. 3-1A). Total biomass gain of E. spectabilis was greater (P<0.05) than M. sinensis Adagio at all treatment levels above 0L (Fig. 3-1C). Miscanthus sinensis Adagio has a larger mature size of 1.5 m (5 feet) than E. spectabilis 46-60 cm (18 inches), (Darke, 1999). Although it is overall a smaller plant, E. spectabilis showed greater biomass gain, mean growth indices, and larger shoot-to-root ratios across treatments. This is most likely a result of reduced growth rate of M. sinensis Adagio due to drought stress, but could also be a result of a faster overall growth rate of E. spectabilis. 34

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An additional possibility for increased gains of E. spectabilis is better drought tolerance. According to biomass and growth data, M. sinensis Adagio did not perform as well under drought stress as E. spectabilis. However, consistently throughout the study E. spectabilis showed more negative water potentials than M. sinensis Adagio, which are ordinarily an indicator of higher water stress. Nonetheless, E. spectabilis had higher final dry mass, larger canopy size, larger shoot-to-root ratios, and less mortality than M. sinensis Adagio (Fig. 3-1AC; Fig. 3-3AB). Larger shoot-to-root ratios were associated with faster and larger growth and more negative water potentials of T. crinita (Greco and Cavagnaro, 2003). These data are consistent with biomass data (Fig. 3-1), growth indices (Fig. 3-3), and water potentials (Table 3-1, Fig. 3-4) for E. spectabilis. These data suggest that rather than avoiding drought through reduced growth and leaf senescence, E. spectabilis adjusted to drought physiologically through osmotic adjustment or larger stomatal aperture. Perdomo et al. (1996) found drought resistant kentucky bluegrass maintained a functional, green canopy and positive turgor under moderate or severe drought despite low ET and more negative water potentials through osmotic adjustment and larger stomatal aperture. Overall, E. spectabilis maintained higher levels of metabolic function under drought stress, suggesting that it is more drought-tolerant than M. sinensis Adagio. Although E. spectabilis is a native plant, its higher drought tolerance than M. sinensis Adagio does not necessarily imply that native grasses outperform non-natives in drought situations. Water use and drought tolerance vary greatly from species to species, even varying by genotype within species. Careful evaluation of individual grass species and sites should always be performed when selecting plants for low-water use landscapes. 35

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01234 B Eragrostis, y = -1.8488x 2 + 2.8004x + 0.3612; r 2 = 0.936 Miscanthus, y = 9.4653x 2 2.7114x + 0.0733; r 2 = 0.9857 010203040506070 Eragrostis, y = 48.663x + 7.3082; r 2 = 0.9259 Miscanthus, y = 42.463x 2 + 4.2068x + 0.653; r 2 = 0.9807 A Biomass gain (g) 0102030405060700 C Eragrostis, y = 50.076x + 7.7849; r 2 = 0.9251 Miscanthus, y = 51.929x 2 + 1.4954x + 0.7263; r 2 = 0.9813 0.75 0.250.5 Irri g ation a pp lication rate ( L ) Figure 3-1. Biomass gains. A) Shoot biomass gain, B) Root biomass gain and C) Total plant biomass gain of () E. spectabilis and () M. sinensis Adagio grown for 90 days and irrigated every other day with 0, 0.25, 0.50 or 0.75L. Error bars indicate SE. 36

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05101520253000.250.50.75 Eragrostis, y = 4.1843x + 0.5992; r 2 = 0.8039 Miscanthus, y = 0.2487x 2 0.4801x + 0.354; r 2 = 0.9131 Irrigation application rate (L) Shoot-to-root ratio Figure 3-2. Shoot-to-root ratios. Ratios of E. spectabilis and M. sinensis Adagio grown 90 d and irrigated every other day with 0, 0.25, 0.50 or 0.75L water. Error bars indicate SE. Ratio calculated by dividing total shoot gain by total root gain. 37

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A 00.050.10.150.20.25 0L .25L .5L .75L y = 0.0046x 2 0.0225x + 0.0687; r 2 = 0.4635 y = -0.0087x 2 + 0.0415x + 0.0797; r 2 = 0.6479 y = -0.0001x 2 + 0.0376x + 0.0684; r 2 = 0.9969 y = -0.0086x 2 + 0.0635x + 0.0645; r 2 = 0.9806 Growth index mean (m 3 ) 00.020.040.060.080.10.120.140.160.180.20123 B MAT 0L .5L .75L y = 0.028x y = 0.0039x 2 0.0164x + 0.0151; r 2 = 0.935 y = 0.0015x 2 0.003x + 0.0111; r 2 = 0.2372 y = 0.0133x 2 0.0361x + 0.0343; r 2 = 0.9948 2 0.0437x + 0.0227; r 2 = 0.9952 .25L Figure 3-3. Growth indices. Mean growth indices for E. spectabilis A) and M. sinensis Adagio B) irrigated at 0(), 0.25(), 0.5(), and 0.75L() per event over a 3 month period during summer in central Florida. + SE indicated by standard error bars. 38

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39 Table 3-1. Water potentials. Predawn, midday, dusk, and cumulative daily water stress integrals (S) calculated monthly for ornamental grass species irrigated with 0, 0.25, 0.50 or 0.75 L per irrigation event over a 3 month period during summer in central Florida. MAT z Species Predawn T (MPa) Midday T (MPa) Dusk T (MPa) Cumulative water stress, S (MPah) E. spectabilis -0.131 a yx -1.67 a -0.35 a 13.34 a M. sinensis 'Adagio' -0.105 a -1.02 b -0.19 b 8.17 b 2 p-values P<0.05 P<0.0151 P<0.0305 P<0.0149 E. spectabilis -0.216 a -2.61 a -1.13 a w 22.33 a v M. sinensis 'Adagio' -0.129 b -1.69 b -0.28 b 12.92 b 3 p-values P<0.0357 P<0.0005 P>0.05 P>0.05 z Months after transplant. y Means calculated from 4 single plant replicates. x Mean separations within columns and species P<0.05. w Values represent pooled dusk water potential species means; however, species effect cannot be clearly identified due to a significant species stress day interaction, P<0.05. v Values represent pooled S species means; however, species effect cannot be clearly identified due to a significant species stress day interaction, P<0.05.

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40 Figure 3-4. Water stress integrals. Cumulative daily water stress integrals (S) calculated monthly on the day prior to irrigation (stressed) and irrigation day (unstressed) for E. spectabilis and M. sinensis Adagio irrigated with four irrigation rates (0, 0.25, 0.50, or 0.75 L) over a 3 month period in central Florida. Each bar represents means, vertical lines represent the SE. 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 12 3 Months after transplant Stressed (ES) Eragrostis Unstressed (EU) Miscanthus Stressed (MS) Miscanthus Unstressed (MU) Eragrostis Cumulative total water stress (MPa h) ES EU EU ES MS MU EU MS ES MS MU MU

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41 2400 Figure 3-5. Hourly vapor pressure deficit (Vpd) recorded 27 (Unstressed Day) and 28 July (Stressed Day) 2005. 2200 2000 1800 1600 1400 Hours 1200 1000 800 600 Stressed Day 400 200 0 3.5 2.5 1.5 0.5 3 2 1 0 Vapor Pressure Deficit (KPa) Unstressed Day

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42 Table 3-2. Weather data. Daily maximum temperature, total incident radiation, precipitation, and reference evapotranspiration, ETo. Weather collected by an onsite weather station. Date MAT Stressed/ Unstressed Max Temp (C) Total Solar Radiation (Kw m -2 ) Rainfall (mm) ETo (cm) 5/23/2005 1 S 31.5 2748 0 0.253 5/24/2005 1 U 31.7 2174 0 0.2 6/23/2005 2 U 30.3 1428 0 0.135 6/24/2005 2 S 27.7 1324 10.4 0.118 7/27/2005 3 U 34.9 2681 0 0.251 7/28/2005 3 S 35.7 2149 26.9 0.203

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CHAPTER 4 SALT TOLERANCE OF TWO ORNAMENTAL GRASSES Introduction As of 2003, 153 million people, 53% of the United States population, lived in the nations 673 coastal counties (Crossett et al., 2005). As coastal development increases landscape plants that tolerate coastal conditions become critically important to the ornamental landscape industry. Researchers have documented injury from airborne salts to plants growing near the coast (Edwards and Holmes, 1968; Karschon, 1964; Malloch, 1972). Exposure to water with high salt content reduces or inhibits plant growth (Belligno et al., 2002a, 2002b; Marcum, 2001; Qian et al., 2001). Much of the research conducted on salinity tolerance concerns saline soil or saline irrigation (Alshammary et al., 2003; Belligno et al., 2002a, 2002b; Gulzar et al., 2003; Hunter and Wu, 2005; Marcum et al., 1999, 2005), but little research has focused on exposure to salt spray under non-saline irrigation conditions. It is well documented that plants are often more sensitive to saline spray than to salt applied at the root zone (Benes et al., 1996; Bernstein and Francois, 1975; Grattan et al., 1981, 1994; Westcot and Ayers, 1984). In addition, most research has assessed survival rates of plants under saline conditions, but few studies considered aesthetic value of plants after foliage was exposed to water with high concentrations of salt (Marcum et al., 2005). For landscape plantings to be successful, they must not only survive but meet high aesthetic standards. Many publications list suitable salt-tolerant ornamental landscape plants, but little quantified information exists for salt tolerance of individual ornamental grass species. The objective of this experiment was to determine the effect of four rates of salt spray on the appearance, flower number, growth and mortality of Miscanthus sinensis Gracillimus, a fine43

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textured grass native to Asia reaching 2.5 m in height, and Pennisetum alopecuroides Hamelin, a medium-textured grass native to Asia reaching 0.50 m in height. Materials and Methods On 1 July 2005, fifty-six 2.5-inch (6.3 cm) liners of Miscanthus sinensis Gracillimus maiden grass and Pennisetum alopecuroides Hamelin fountain grass (Emerald Coast Growers, Pensacola, Fla.) were potted into #1 (3.8L) containers and placed on a bench in a polyethylene greenhouse at the University of Florida Environmental Horticulture Greenhouse Complex in Gainesville, Fla. (29N, 82W). Potting media was 5 peat: 4 pine bark: 1 sand (by volume); (Florida Potting Soils, Inc., Orlando, Fla.). Irrigation was provided by 0.076 on-off tube/weight emitters (one per container; Chapin Watermatics, Inc., Watertown, N.Y.) connected to 1 inch (25.4 mm) polyethylene pipe. Plants received 0.13 gallons (0.5L) of water twice daily. On 7 July 2005, 6 plants of each taxon were partitioned into roots and shoots, dried at 158F (70C) for 72 h and weighed. On 12 July 2005, carbon-filtered seawater with a salinity of 36,000 ppm was obtained from the Mote Marine Research Laboratory in Sarasota, Fla., separated into four 32-gallon (121L) refuse containers (Rubbermaid, Fairlawn, Ohio) and combined with deionized water to achieve the following treatment ratios: 1 seawater:0 deionized (100%), (36,000 mgL -1 ), 1 seawater:1 deionized (50%), (18,000 mgL -1 ), 1 seawater:3 deionized (25%), (9,000 mgL -1 ), 0 seawater:1 deionized (0%), (0 v mgL -1 ). Treatment applications began on 13 July 2005 and plants were treated 3 times weekly. At each application, foliage was sprayed to runoff with a 1L spray bottle. A bottomless 32-gallon (121L) container was placed over each plant at each application to prevent overspray to adjacent plants. Modified #3 (11.4L) plastic nursery containers were inverted and installed as pot covers to prevent salt spray from reaching the potting media. 44

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Height, flower number, and visual rating data were collected biweekly. Height measurements only included green foliage. Visual ratings conducted by the same three observers at each data collection were based on foliage appearance, with 1 having no green foliage and 5 having all green foliage. In addition, root, shoot, total biomass gain, height gain (final initial) were calculated. Mortality was also monitored throughout the data collection. After 90 days, plants were destructively harvested, partitioned into roots and shoots, dried at 158F (70C) for 72 h and weighed. The experiment was conducted in a completely randomized design. Height, flowering, and visual ratings were analyzed with regression analyses. To determine differences in biomass gains between species at specific treatment levels, mean separation was by paired t-tests. For height, flowering, and ratings, differences among all treatment combinations within species were determined with paired t-tests. All analysis was performed with SAS V8 (SAS Institute, Cary N.C.). Results and Discussion In both Gracillimus maiden grass and Hamelin fountain grass, root, shoot, and whole plant biomass gain decreased as seawater concentration increased (Fig. 4-1AC). Root biomass gain decreased linearly for both Gracillimus maiden grass and Hamelin fountain grass (Fig. 4-1A). These observations support previous findings that increased exposure to salt concentrations resulted in a decrease in root weight (Gulzar et al., 2003). In addition, Alshammary et al. (2004) found that root growth of kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) reduced dramatically with increasing soil and irrigation salinity. Root biomass gain was similar between species (P>0.05) at all treatment levels (Fig. 4-1A). Shoot growth and biomass are good indicators of salinity tolerance in both turfgrasses and forage grasses (Alshammary et al., 2004, Marcum and Murdoch, 1994; Marcum et al., 2005). Shoot biomass gain of Gracillimus maiden grass and Hamelin fountain grass decreased linearly and quadratically, respectively as seawater treatment 45

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concentration increased (Fig. 1B). Shoot biomass gain was similar (P>0.05) for grasses treated with 50% and 100% seawater; however, for grasses treated with 0% and 25% seawater, Gracillimus maiden grass had a higher (P<0.001) shoot biomass gain than Hamelin fountain grass (Fig. 4-1B). Gracillimus maiden grass is a larger, faster growing plant than Hamelin fountain grass and would be expected to have greater biomass gain under optimal conditions. Reduced shoot biomass has been observed at high salinity levels in forage and turfgrasses (Alshammary et al., 2004; Hunter and Wu, 2005; Gulzar et al., 2003; Belligno et al., 2002b; Marcum et al., 2005). Shoot biomass was the major percentage of total biomass gained; therefore, the two displayed similar trends (Fig. 4-1BC). Height of Gracillimus maiden grass treated with 0% and 25% seawater increased quadratically while 50% and 100% treatments decreased quadratically and linearly, respectively (Fig. 4-2A). Data indicate that height of Gracillimus maiden grass is sensitive to increasing concentrations of salt spray and was reduced relative to plants not exposed to salt spray. Hamelin fountain grass heights were similar (P>0.05) among 0%, 25%, and 50% treatments but grasses treated with 100% seawater declined more rapidly (P<0.05) resulting in shorter plants (Fig. 4-2B). Overall declines in height among treatments can be partially explained by the presence of chlorotic and necrotic leaves. As days after treatment initiation (DATI) and salt concentrations increased, chlorosis and necrosis increased, yet only green leaves were included in height measurements. This correlates with findings of Hunter and Wu (2005), who observed leaf chlorosis and necrosis as symptoms of salt stress in tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia caespitosa) and california melicgrass (Melica californica), as well as those of Marcum (1999), who found chlorotic leaf area to indicate salinity injury in forage and turfgrasses. Height data are consistent with shoot biomass gain (Fig. 4-1B). 46

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Flower numbers for Gracillimus maiden grass treated with 0%, 25% and 50% seawater increased (P<0.05) with decreasing percent seawater applied though flowering did not occur until 70 DATI (Fig. 4-2C). Gracillimus maiden grass plants treated with 100% seawater did not flower during the experiment (Fig. 4-2C). Hamelin fountain grass flower numbers increased quadratically until 56 DATI. At 56 DATI, grasses treated with 100% seawater began to show decreased flower number. For both species, flower numbers were similar (P<0.05) among grasses treated with 0%, 25% and 50% seawater but substantially declined within the 100% treatment (Fig. 4-2D). Hunter and Wu (2005) found no effect of salinity on flowering in native California grass species. In contrast, Munns and Rawson (1999) and Dhingra and Varghese (1997) observed an acceleration in the reproductive mode of plants under low levels of salt stress. Throughout the experiment, visual ratings of Gracillimus maiden grass and Hamelin fountain grass were inversely correlated to salt spray level (Fig. 4-2EF). Lower visual ratings were due primarily to the presence of chlorotic and necrotic leaves. Conclusions Plants treated with 100% seawater displayed reduced height, flower number, and visual ratings (Fig. 4-2A F). In addition, biomass of both species of plants decreased with increasing saltwater application rates (Fig. 4-1A C). Of the two grass taxa, Gracillimus maiden grass showed significant height and flower number reduction across treatments, where Hamelin fountain grass only showed significantly reduced height and flower number at the 100% saltwater application rate. Under these experimental conditions, height and flowering of Hamelin fountain grass were less sensitive to saltwater spray than Gracillimus maiden grass. Neither plant is tolerant of 100% salt spray exposure, but at reduced levels of salt spray, Hamelin fountain grass appears to be a more suitable selection for landscape use. 47

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020406080100 A Miscanthus, y = -0.8072x + 88.052, r 2 = 0.9835 Pennisetum, y = -0.007x2 + 0.3512x + 51.397, r 2 = 0.9883 010203040 B Miscanthus, y = -0.3322x + 34.757, r 2 = 0.9936 Pennisetum, y = -0.2546x + 27.463, r 2 = 0.9958 03060901200255075100 Miscanthus, y = -1.1411x + 123.29, r 2 = 0.9966 Pennisetum, y = -0.0073x2 + 0.1302x + 78.454, r 2 = 0.9975 C Biomass gain (g) Saltwater application rate (% seawater) Figure 4-1. Biomass gain. A) Shoot biomass gain, B) root biomass gain and C) whole plant biomass gain of () M. sinensis Gracillimus and () P. alopecuroides Hamelin grown for 90 d treated 3 weekly with 0%, 25%, 50% or 100 % seawater spray. Error bars indicate SE. 48

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49 0 5 1 0 12 Flower number 5 0 2 5 0 1 2 3 4 5 142842567084 012345142842567084 020406080100120140 01020304050 0 246810 0 0 0 0 0 Miscanthus sinensis Gracillimus Pennisetum alopecuroides Hamelin A B Height (cm) y = -0.0084x 2 + 650.82x 1E+07, r 2 = 0.9958 y = -0.006x 2 + 460.51x 9E+06, r 2 = 0.9812 y = -0.0094x 2 + 722.9x 1E+07, r 2 = 0.9636 y = -0.0005x 2 + 37.671x 723806, r 2 = 0.9126 y = -0.0056x 2 + 431.19x 8E+06, r 2 = 0.7426 y = -0.0066x 2 + 512.16x 1E+07, r 2 = 0.7614 y = -0.0056x 2 + 435.3x 8E+06, r 2 = 0.8479 y = -0.0038x 2 + 289.74x 6E+06, r 2 = 0.8378 D C y = -0.0166x 2 + 1282.5x 2E+07, r 2 = 0.9674 y = -0.0143x 2 + 1106.4x 2E+07, r 2 = 0.963 y = -0.012x 2 + 926.19x 2E+07, r 2 = 0.9731 y = -0.0208x 2 + 1602.6x 3E+07, r 2 = 0.932 y = -0.0022x 2 + 0.925x 45.031, r 2 = 1 y = 0.0006x 2 + 0.4956x 29.64, r 2 = 1 y = 0.0053x 2 0.429x + 7.2512, r 2 = 1 F E Ratings y = -0.0001x 2 + 9.8529x 190205, r 2 = 0.8764 y = -9E-05x 2 + 7.0029x 135031, r 2 = 0.3984 y = 7E-06x 2 0.4991x + 9582.2, r 2 = 0.3892 y = 0.0002x 2 11.653x + 225141, r 2 = 0.9824 y = -0.0005x 2 + 35.412x 683602, r 2 = 0.9029 y = -0.0002x 2 + 14.202x 273905, r 2 = 0.5016 y = 1E-04x 2 7.4013x + 143272, r 2 = 0.8712 y = -7E-06x 2 + 0.5219x 9729.9, r 2 = 0.828 Days after treatment initiation Figure 4-2. Aesthetic data. A) Height data for M. sinensis Gracillimus. B) Height data for P. alopecuroides Hamelin. C) Flower number for M. sinensis Gracillimus. D) Flower number for P. alopecuroides Hamelin. E) Aesthetic ratings of M. sinensis Gracillimus. F) Aesthetic ratings of P. alopecuroides Hamelin. All plants were grown for 90d and treated 3 weekly with 0% (), 25% (), 50% (), or 100 % () seawater spray.

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CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSIONS Drought Tolerance Drought tolerant plants are important to landscapers and consumers. Ornamental grasses are frequently recommended for low-maintenance landscapes and may be candidates for low-water use landscapes once they have been evaluated for drought tolerance. M. sinensis Adagio and E. spectabilis were subjected to four irrigation treatments (0L, 0.25L, 0.50L and 0.75L) to determine drought tolerance. As irrigation level increased, root, shoot, whole plant biomass gain, growth index, shoot-to-root ratio, and cumulative water stress integrals increased for both taxa; however, E. spectabilis appears to be more tolerant of drought than M. sinensis Adagio. Although it is overall a smaller plant, E. spectabilis showed greater biomass gain, mean growth indices, and larger shoot to root ratios across treatments. This is most likely a result of reduced growth rate of M. sinensis Adagio due to drought stress, but could also be a result of a faster overall growth rate and better drought tolerance of E. spectabilis. Overall, E. spectabilis maintained higher levels of metabolic function under drought stress, suggesting that it is more drought-tolerant than M. sinensis Adagio. Although E. spectabilis is a native plant, its higher drought tolerance than M. sinensis Adagio does not necessarily mean that native grasses outperform non-natives in drought situations. Salt Tolerance Salt tolerant landscape plants are important to ornamental growers, landscapers and residents in coastal communities. Ornamental grasses are frequently recommended for low-maintenance landscape situations and may be candidates for coastal plantings once they are evaluated for their salt spray tolerance. Maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. Gracillimus) and fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides (L.) Spreng. Hamelin) were 50

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subjected to four treatments (100% seawater, 50% seawater, 25% seawater, or 100% deionized water) to determine salt spray tolerance. As seawater concentration increased, root, shoot, whole plant biomass gain, height, flower number, and visual quality decreased for both taxa; however, fountain grass appears to be slightly more tolerant of salt spray than maiden grass. Water use and stress responses vary greatly from species to species, even varying by genotype within species. Provenance plays a significant role in plant adaptation to environmental stresses. Careful evaluation of individual taxa and site characteristics should always be performed when selecting plants for low-water use or coastal landscapes. 51

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Erin Elizabeth Alvarez was born on January 14, 1977, in Tampa, Florida. She grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and Palm Harbor, Florida. She graduated from East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs, Florida in 1995. She earned her B.A. in English from the University of Florida in 1999. After graduation, she worked in advertising at the Independent Florida Alligator in Gainesville, Florida until 2001. She returned to school in the spring of 2001 and earned a B.S. in environmental horticulture from UF in 2004, and a M.S. in environmental horticulture in 2006. While in school, she worked as a landscape designer and student assistant for the Environmental Horticulture Department. Erin plans to teach horticulture, and design residential landscapes. She also plans to work in conservation and education at a botanical garden or tropical ecology conservation center. 59


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Title: Salt and Drought Tolerance of Four Ornamental Grasses
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Copyright Date: 2008

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SALT AND DROUGHT TOLERANCE OF FOUR ORNAMENTAL GRASSES


By

ERIN ELIZABETH ALVAREZ













A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCEINCE

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2006

































Copyright 2006

by

Erin Elizabeth Alvarez


































To my father for his unwavering pride and support









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I thank my family and friends for their constant support and love. I thank Michele

Scheiber for going above and beyond the call of duty. I would also like to thank David

Sandrock, and Richard Beeson for their assistance in completing this proj ect.












TABLE OF CONTENTS


page

ACKNOWLEDGMENT S ................. ...............4.......... ......


LIST OF TABLES ................ ...............7............ ....


LI ST OF FIGURE S .............. ...............8.....


AB S TRAC T ......_ ................. ............_........9


CHAPTER


1 INTRODUCTION ................. ...............11.......... .....


Drought T olerance. ................. ...............11.......... .....
Salt Tolerance. ............. ...............12.....

Obj ectives. ............. ...............13.....


2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................. ...............14................


Drought Tolerance and Ornamental Grasses ................. ...............14........... ...
Need for Drought-Tolerant Plants ................ ...............14................
Native/Non-native Plant Issue ................. ...............15........... ....
Relevance. ............. ...............15.....
Economic importance ................. ...............17.................

Drought Stress Physiology .............. ...............17....
Salt Tolerance and Ornamental Grasses ................ ...............20........... ...
Need for Salt Tolerant Plants .............. ...............20....

Physiological and Adaptive Mechanisms............... ...............2
Plants............... ......... ............2
Pennisetum alopecuroides ................. ...............23___ .......
M~iscanthus sinensis ................. ...............24.................

Eragrostis spectabilis .....__. ............... .......__. ..........2


3 DROUGHT TOLERANCE OF TWO ORNAMENTAL GRASSES .............. ..................26


Introducti on ........._._... ....__.. ...............26....
M materials and M ethods .............. ...............27....
W weather Data ........._..... ...._... ...............28.....
Growth Indices and Biomass. .............. ...............28....
Leaf Water Potential Measurements ........._.._.. ...._... ...._.._ ..........2

Data Analysis............... ...............29
Growth Results and Discussion ........._..... ...._... ...............30....

M ortality ........._.._.. ...._... ...............30....
Biom ass ................ ...............30...
S hoot-to-Root Ratio. ....___................. ......._. ..........3













Growth Indices .............. ...............32....

Water Potentials............... ...............3

Conclusions............... ..............3


4 SALT TOLERANCE OF TWO ORNAMENTAL GRASSES ................. ......................43


Introducti on .................. ...............43._._._......

Materials and Methods .............. ...............44....

Results and Discussion .............. ...............45....

Conclusions............... ..............4


5 CONCLUSIONS .............. ...............50....


Drought Tolerance ........._.__....... .__. ...............50....
Salt Tolerance ........._.__........_. ...............50....


LIST OF REFERENCES ........._.__....... .__. ...............52...


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ........._.__........_. ...............59....










LIST OF TABLES


Table page

3-1 Predawn water potential, midday water potential, dusk water potential, and
cumulative daily water stress integrals (Suy) ........................_. ......_.._.........3

3-2 Daily maximum temperature, total incident radiation, precipitation, and reference
evapotranspiration, ETo ........._.. ..... ._ __ ...............42....










LIST OF FIGURES


Figure page

3-1 Shoot biomass gain, root biomass gain and total plant biomass gain of Eragrostis
spectabilis and M~iscanthus sinensis 'Adagio' ............. ...............36.....

3-2 Shoot to root ratio of E. spectabilis and M. sinensis 'Adagio' ................ ............. ......37

3-3 Mean growth indices for Eragrostis spectabilis and M~iscanthus sinensis 'Adagio' .........38

3-4 Cumulative daily water stress integrals (Suy) for Eragrostis spectabilis and
M~iscanthus sinensis 'Adagio' ............. ...............40.....

4-1 Shoot biomass gain, root biomass gain and whole plant biomass gain of M~iscanthus
sinensis 'Gracillimus' and Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hamelin' ................ ...............48

4-2 Height, flower number, and ratings of2~iscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus' and
Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hamelin ...._. ......_._._ ..... ...............49.









Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science

SALT AND DROUGHT TOLERANCE OF FOUR ORNAMENTAL GRASSES

By

Erin Alvarez

December 2006

Chair: Michele Scheiber
Maj or Department: Horticultural Science-- Environmental Horticulture

Water use is the most important environmental issue facing the horticulture industry. As a

result, many water management districts are recommending native plants for their putative low-

water requirements. Numerous textbooks and trade journals claim native plants use less water

than non-natives; however, previous research found no difference in water use efficiency in the

Hield between native and non-native species. Furthermore, recommendations of ornamental

grasses for use as low-maintenance and low-water requiring landscape plants have recently

escalated.

This study evaluated non-native M~iscanthus sinensis 'Adagio' and the native Eragrostis

spectabilis for irrigation requirements and drought response in a landscape setting. To simulate

maximum stress, both species were planted into Hield plots in an open-sided, clear polyethylene

covered shelter. Each species was irrigated on alternating days at OL, 0.25L, 0.5L, or 0.75L for a

90 day period. Growth index and height were recorded at biweekly intervals, and Einal shoot and

root dry masses were taken at completion of the study. Significant treatment and species effects

were found for height, growth index, shoot dry weight, and biomass. Plants receiving 0.75L of

irrigation had the greatest growth and non-irrigated plants grew significantly less. Comparisons

between species found growth was greatest among Eragrostis spectabilis plants for all










parameters. Salt tolerant landscape plants are important to ornamental growers, landscapers and

residents in coastal communities. Ornamental grasses are frequently recommended for low-

maintenance landscape situations and may be candidates for coastal plantings once they are

evaluated for their salt spray tolerance. Maiden grass (M~iscanthus sinensis Anderss.

'Gracillimus') and fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides (L.) Spreng. 'Hamelin') were

subjected to four treatments (100% seawater, 50% seawater, 25% seawater, or 100% deionized

water) to determine salt spray tolerance. As seawater concentration increased, root, shoot, whole

plant biomass gain, height, flower number, and visual quality decreased for both taxa; however,

fountain grass appears to be slightly more tolerant of salt spray than maiden grass.









CHAPTER 1
INTTRODUCTION

Drought and corresponding water restrictions are forcing landscapers and consumers to

seek alternative irrigation practices and plants that require minimal irrigation for survival (Knox,

1990). Ornamental grasses are generally regarded as problem free low maintenance plants (Dana,

2002), and are recommended for their putative low-water requirements. In addition to water

concerns, increasing development along Florida's coastlines has created a stronger market for

plants suitable for a seaside environment. Plants that can meet needs of a typical Floridian

landscape must not only withstand drought, heat and humidity, but frequently must be salt

tolerant as well.

Drought Tolerance

A large body of research exists on relationships between grasses and water use (Blicker,

Olson, and Wraith, 2003; Bolger, Rivelli, and Garden 2005; Greco and Cavagnaro, 2002;

Guenni, Marin, and Baruch, 2002; Mohsenzadeh, Malboobi, Razavi, and Farrahi-Aschtiani,

2006), yet research quantifying water requirements of ornamental grasses for establishment

and/or maintenance in residential landscapes is limited (Zollinger, Kjelgren, Cemy-Koenig,

Kopp, and Koenig, 2006). Many water management districts have recommended native plants to

their consumers (SFWMD, 2001; SWFWMD, 2003) under the premise that Florida native plants

use less water than non-native plants (Haehle, 2004; Hostetler, Klowden, Miller, and

Youngentob, 2003; SFWMD, 2001). Limited research has been done to substantiate the

assumption that native plants use less water than non-native plants. Kissel, Wilson, Bannister,

and Mark (1987) examined water relations of four exotic and three native New Zealand species

and found no overall difference existed between adaptation mechanisms of native and exotic

species. Glenn et al. (1998) found no difference in water use efficiency between two native and









two invasive riparian species from the Colorado River delta. However, Blicker et al. (2003)

found that native Pseudoroegneria spicata (Scribn. And Smith) and Pa~scopyrum smithii (Rybd.)

produced more biomass under drought conditions than invasive Centaurea maculosa (Lam). A

study in Australia of seven native and three introduced perennial grass species subj ected grasses

to continuous drought and found mixed results among performances of native and exotic species

(Bolger et al., 2005). Drought resistance may be less a function of a plant' s status as native or

non-native, and more that of its individual physiology and natural range (Chapman and Auge,

1994). In addition, ecology of cultivated landscapes is not the same as natural environments.

Plant selection should take into account individual site criteria and plants' cultural requirements

in addition to its native or non-native status (Anella, 2000; Knox, 1990).

Salt Tolerance

As of 2003, 153 million people, 53% of the United States population, lived in the nation' s

673 coastal counties (Crossett, Culliton, Wiley, and Goodspeed, 2005). As development

increases landscape plants that tolerate coastal conditions become critically important to the

ornamental landscape industry.

Researchers have documented injury from airborne salts to plants growing near the coast

(Edwards and Holmes, 1968; Karschon, 1964; Malloch, 1972). Exposure to water with high salt

content reduces or inhibits plant growth (Belligno, Cutore, Di Leo, Sardo, and Brancato, 2002a;

Belligno, LaLoggia, Sambuco, Sardo, and Brancato, 2002b; Marcum, 2001; Qian, Wilhelm, and

Marcum, 2001). Much of the research done in salinity tolerance concerns saline soil or saline

irrigation (Alshammary, Qian, and Wallner, 2003; Belligno et al., 2002a, 2002b; Gulzar, Khan,

and Ungar, 2003; Hunter and Wu, 2005; Marcum and Murdoch, 1994; Marcum, Pessarakli, and

Kopec, 2005), but little research has focused on exposure to salt spray under non-saline irrigation

conditions. It is well documented that plants are often more sensitive to saline spray than to salt










applied at the root zone (Benes, Aragues, Grattan, and Austin, 1996; Bernstein and Francois,

1975; Grattan, Mass, and Ogata, 1981; Grattan, Royo, and Aragues, 1994; Westcot and Ayers,

1984). In addition, much of the research done assesses survival rates of plants under saline

conditions, but few studies consider the aesthetic value of the plants after foliage is exposed to

water with high concentrations of salt (Marcum et al., 2005). For landscape plantings to be

successful, they must not only survive but meet high aesthetic standards. Many publications list

suitable salt-tolerant ornamental landscape plants, but little quantified information exists for the

salt tolerance of individual ornamental grass species.

Obj ectives

The obj ectives of this study were to evaluate two ornamental grasses for drought

response in a landscape setting and to determine effects of salt spray on appearance, flower

number, growth and mortality of two ornamental grasses.









CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW

Water availability is the primary limiting factor for ornamental landscapes (Chapman and

Auge, 1994; Scheiber and Beeson, 2006). Drought and corresponding water restrictions are

forcing landscapers and consumers to look for alternative irrigation practices and plants that will

survive low-water conditions. Ornamental grasses are generally regarded as problem free low

maintenance plants (Dana, 2002), and are commonly recommended to the public for their

putative low-water requirements in landscapes. Most grasses suited for Florida are C4 plants

adapted to withstand tropical weather conditions and low-water environments (Taiz and Zeiger,

2002). A large body of research exists on relationships between grasses and water use, yet

research quantifying water requirements of ornamental grasses for establishment and/or

maintenance in residential landscapes is limited (Zollinger et al., 2006). Studies comparing the

water usage of native Florida grasses and non-native grasses have not been conducted. In

addition to water concerns, increasing development along Florida' s coastlines has created a

stronger market for plants suitable for a seaside environment. Plants that can meet the needs of a

typical Florida landscape must not only withstand drought, heat and humidity, but frequently

must be salt tolerant as well.

Drought Tolerance and Ornamental Grasses

Need for Drought-Tolerant Plants

Landscape consumption of potable water has been a source of scrutiny and has resulted in

water restrictions across the United States. According to the Environmental Protection Agency

irrigation accounts for 81% of fresh water consumption in the U. S (Environmental Protection

Agency, 1995). Increasingly, counties and water management districts in Florida are

implementing partial bans on outdoor water use, including landscape irrigation (SWFWMD,










2003). With water becoming less available for non-essential uses such as landscape irrigation,

demand for low-water use landscapes is increasing. Ornamental plants serve an aesthetic as well

as functional role, so selected plants should be able to withstand drought and still be visually

appealing in landscapes. As yet, water requirements and drought responses for ornamental plants

are not yet well defined for a large number of species, especially herbaceous perennials

(Zollinger et al., 2006). In many cases, drought tolerance assessment for grasses is based on

forage yield (Bolger et al., 2005, Greco and Cavagnaro, 2002; Guenni et al., 2002), or

physiological assessment ofturfgrass cultivars (Huang and Gao, 1999; Perdomo, Murphy, and

Berkowitz, 1996). Similar to yield measurements of agricultural and forage crops, success of

ornamental landscapes can be determined by biomass accumulation and growth indices.

However, plants in landscapes serve a different purpose than agronomic crops, and subj ective

criteria such as aesthetic appeal are often the benchmark for performance (Kj elgren, Rupp, and

Kjelgren, 2000).

Native/Non-native Plant Issue

Relevance

Many Florida water management districts have recommended native plants to their

consumers (SFWMD, 2001; SWFWMD, 2003) under the premise that Florida native plants use

less water than non-native plants (Haehle, 2004; Hostetler et al., 2003; SFWMD, 2001).

Furthermore, species categorized as invasive and hazardous to Florida' s ecology have been

outlawed (FL Statute 581.185). The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council has defined the following

terms to describe the role of plants in Florida' s ecosystem (FLEPPC, 2006): Exotic a species

introduced to Florida, purposefully or accidentally, from a natural range outside of Florida;

Native a species whose natural range included Florida at the time of European contact

(1500AD); Inva~sive exotic an exotic that not only has naturalized but is expanding on its own









in Florida plant communities. Plants found to be overly aggressive by displacing native plants

and animals have been labeled as invasive, and plants existing in Florida at the time of European

contact have become native. These definitions have led to research into roles of invasive and

native plants in ecosystems and potential physiological traits that make invasive plants prolific

and native plants well-adapted to Florida. However, little research has been done to substantiate

assumptions that native plants use less water than non-native plants, that natives are better for

ecosystems in residential settings, or that native plants generally perform better with less

maintenance than non-natives. In addition, cultivated residential landscapes are significantly

altered by human use and development, and bear little resemblance to native landscapes (Knox,

1990).

Kissel et al. (1987) examined water relations of four exotic and three native New Zealand

species and found that no overall difference existed between adaptation mechanisms of native

and exotic species. Glenn et al. (1998) found no difference in water use efficiency between two

native and two invasive riparian species from the Colorado River delta. Blicker et al. (2003)

found native Pseudoroegneria spicata (Scribn. and Smith) and Pa~scopyrum smithii (Rybd.)

produced more biomass under drought conditions than invasive Centaurea maculosa (Lam.),

refuting the hypothesis that greater water use efficiency is key to successes of invasive species in

an ecosystem. A study in Australia of seven native and three introduced perennial grass species

subj ected grasses to continuous drought and found native species survived for both the longest

and shortest periods of time, with exotic species falling intermediate (Bolger et al., 2005).

Drought resistance may be less a function of a plant' s status as native or non-native, and more

that of its individual physiology and natural range (Chapman and Auge, 1994). In addition,

cultivated landscapes are not the same as natural environments, and plant selection should take









into account site criteria and an individual plant' s cultural requirements in addition to its native

or non-native status (Anella, 2000; Knox, 1990). Consequently, research is needed to determine

which ornamental grass species are truly suited for low-water cultivated landscapes, and which

of those species are able to withstand drought conditions while maintaining landscape value

through aesthetic appeal.

Economic importance

A recent trend in residential landscaping has been to eliminate all non-native plants in

favor of natives that are championed as being not only more water efficient, but better for the

local ecology (Haehle, 2004; Hostetler et al., 2003; SWFWMD 2001). Relative sales of native

and exotic plants in Florida are as yet undetermined due to a lack of tracking of individual plant

sales. More information is needed to determine economic impacts of eliminating non-native

plants from the nursery industry (Fox, Gordon, Dusky, Tyson, and Stocker, 2004).

Drought Stress Physiology

Plants adapt to water stress in one of three ways. First is an ability to maintain tissue

hydration under water stress via two strategies. 'Water savers' use water conservatively so that

not all soil moisture is depleted. 'Water spenders' use water aggressively, often to the

deprivation of surrounding plants. Second is an ability of a plant to function while dehydrated,

and includes several acclimation strategies discussed below. The third level of adaptation is

'drought escape', in which plants complete their life cycles during wet seasons, thereby

completely avoiding situations of water stress (Taiz and Zeiger, 2002). For plants that cannot

escape drought, they must adapt to survive. Non-succulent plants are unable to physically store

large quantities of water in their tissues, and so they must undergo alterations to physiological

processes to conserve water. These plants have a complex, often interrelated system of

managing water deficit. A standard sequence of physiological events occurs when water stress









develops gradually (Hsiao, 1973). This sequence begins with the response most sensitive to

water deficit and progresses to those processes that respond to only the most severe water deficit.

First in this sequence, and most sensitive to reduced water, is cellular growth. A decrease

in water potential outside of a cell results in a perceptible decrease in cell growth and therefore a

decrease in growth of roots and shoots (Neumann, VanVolkenburgh, and Cleland, 1988; Sakurai

and Kuraishi, 1988). This adaptation is likely the cause for an often-observed water stress

response of an overall decrease in plant growth and biomass. Water stress can reduce biomass in

some species of grasses by 60% (Fernandez, Wang, and Reynolds, 2002). Inhibition of cell

expansion is followed by a reduction in cell wall and protein biosynthesis, enzyme activity, and

cell division (Salisbury and Ross, 1992). These responses cumulatively result in a decrease of

leaf area. Water stress decreases cell expansion, which slows leaf expansion, which in turn

reduces transpiring leaf area and thereby conserves water supply over a longer time period.

Drought studies on herbaceous species have repeatedly shown that leaf expansion and

morphological and allocation variables are more sensitive to water stress than leaf conductance

and instantaneous carbon gain (Kalapos, van Den Boogard, and Lambers, 1996; Kramer and

Boyer, 1996; Sadras and Milroy, 1996). Because of this, a measure of the leaf area is the main

determinant of maximum relative growth rate, rather than net carbon assimilation rate (Hunt and

Cornelissen, 1997). Some species of plants respond to water stress by allocating proportionally

more biomass to roots and less to leaves and by producing leaves of smaller area:weight ratio

than those under well-watered conditions (Fernandez et al., 2002). However, if plants become

stressed for water after a certain leaf area has developed, leaves will simply senesce and fall off

in response to increased ethylene synthesis (Taiz and Zeiger, 2002).









Second in response to water deficit is root extension. Root:shoot biomass ratio is partially

maintained by a balance between root water uptake and shoot photosynthesis. Shoots will grow

until water uptake by roots becomes limiting, and roots will grow until assimilates provided by

shoots are limiting. When water deficit occurs, the top few inches of soil begin to dry, so roots

grow into soil zones that still retain water. As root tips grow, assimilates must be allocated to

them. However, when plants are in the reproductive stage, photosynthates go to the developing

fruits first, which may explain why plants are more susceptible to drought during reproduction

(Taiz and Zeiger, 2002).

When water deficit continues to increase, stomatal closure occurs. This response reduces

evaporation from existing leaf area, which is especially useful when stress develops quickly or

when a plant has achieved its full leaf area before stress occurs, making reduced leaf expansion a

useless stress response. Stomata may close passively due to a loss in guard cell turgor from

water evaporation to the atmosphere, or actively when leaves or roots are dehydrated and a

reduction in solute content of guard cells causes closure (Taiz and Zeiger, 2002). Chemical

signals from roots may also affect stomatal responses to water stress (Bohnert, Nelson, and

Jensen, 1995; Davies, Wilkinson, and Loveys, 2002). Eventually, photosynthesis begins to

decrease as mesophyll cells become dehydrated and metabolism is impaired. Translocation of

assimilates is unaffected until late in the stress period to allow plants to utilize their reserves

when necessary (Taiz and Zeiger, 2002). However, at the highest levels of water stress,

respiration, translocation, and CO2 aSSimilation drop to levels near zero (Salisbury and Ross,

1992).

Most plants undergo some variation on water deficit responses. All plants have genetic

encoding for stress perception, signaling and response, and a wide variety of species express a









common set of genes and similar proteins when stressed (Flowers and Flowers, 2002). No

evidence has been found to date that distinguishes native from non-native plants where water

stress responses are concerned.

Some herbaceous ornamentals adapt to drought through drought avoidance mechanisms

such as leaf senescence when water is limiting (Zollinger et al., 2006). Reduction in dry mass

has been found to be a common experimental result of drought stress. Guenni et al. (2002) found

a reduction in dry mass for Brachiaria brizantha (A. Rich.) Stapf, an African neotropical grass,

when exposed to moderate drought stress. Drought-stressed Gaillardia aristata Pursh showed a

reduced dry mass of 50% and 84%, and dry mass ofLeucanthemum xsuperbum (Bergmans ex

J.Ingram) Soreng & E.A.Cope was reduced by 47% and 99% when exposed to 2- and 4-week

irrigation intervals (Zollinger et al., 2006). Greco and Cavagnaro (2002) subjected three

varieties of the native Argentinean grass Trichloris crinita (Laq.) Parodi to drought conditions,

all of which showed significantly reduced total dry mass as compared to controls receiving

optimal irrigation.

Salt Tolerance and Ornamental Grasses

Need for Salt Tolerant Plants

As of 2003, 153 million people, or 53% of the United States population, lived in the

nation's 673 coastal counties (Crossett et al., 2005). As development and growth of coastal areas

increase, landscape plants that can tolerate harsh coastal conditions become critically important

to the ornamental landscape industry. Observations have been made of both naturally occurring

coastal vegetation and installed seaside landscape plants being injured by airborne salts (Edwards

and Holmes, 1968; Karschon, 1964; Malloch, 1972). Marcum (1999) and Belligno et al., (2002a)

observed increased leaf firing, defined as the percent of dead or chlorotic tissue, with increasing

salinity of irrigation water. Irrigation water with high salt content has been found to reduce or









inhibit plant growth (Marcum 2001; Qian et al.,2001). Ashraf, McNeilly, and Bradshaw, (1986)

found that in both control and selected lines of four grass species, dry biomass and tiller number

were greatly reduced with increasing exposure to salinity. Dry and fresh biomasses of forage

grasses have been found to decrease with increasing percentages of seawater in irrigation

applications (Belligno et al., 2002a, 2002b). Many publications list suitable salt-tolerant

ornamental landscape plants, but little quantified information exists for salt tolerance of

individual ornamental grass species.

The maj ority of research done in salinity tolerance concerns saline soil or saline irrigation.

Hunter and Wu (2005) tested five ornamental grass species for tolerance to saline irrigation

water, and found no significant difference between control and saline treatments in four of five

species. Glenn et al. (1998) subj ected six native and non-native riparian species to varying levels

of soil salinity and found a wide variety of tolerance levels among species. Four turfgrass

species grown in saline hydroponic solution or under saline irrigation were found to have a 50%

reduction in root and shoot growth at varying salinity levels (Alshammary et al., 2004). Gulzar

et al. (2003) found reduced growth and dry mass with increasing soil and irrigation salinity for

the halophytic coastal salt marsh grass Grochondra setulosa (Trin.). Marcum (1999) exposed a

wide variety of turfgrass and forage genera to saline solution culture to test salinity tolerance of

Chloridoideae. Overhead saline irrigation was found to reduce yield through foliar injury in

pepper plants (Maas, Clark, and Francois, 1982). Westcot and Ayers (1984) examined effects of

saline irrigation through reclaimed wastewater and found high levels of salinity were detrimental

to yield of several food crops.

Despite the fact that plants are often more sensitive to saline spray than to salt applied at

the root zone, relatively little research examines exposure to salt spray under non-saline










irrigation conditions. Benes et al. (1996) and Grattan et al. (1981, 1994) found that saline spray

exposure resulted in a greater biomass reduction than soil salinity in barley. Bernstein and

Francois (1975) found that a reduction in yield of alfalfa was greater under saline irrigation than

under saline soil conditions. In addition, much of the research done assessed survival rates of

ornamental grasses under saline conditions, but few studies considered aesthetic value of plants

after foliage was exposed to water with high concentrations of NaCl (Marcum et al., 2005). For

landscape plantings to be successful, they must not only survive but meet high aesthetic

standards .

Physiological and Adaptive Mechanisms

Salt tolerance is a complex trait regulated by a number of genes (Barkla, VeraEstrella,

and Pantoja, 1999; Flowers, Hajibagheri, and Clipson, 1986; Gorham, 1992). In crop plants, salt

tolerance varies widely among species and varieties (Francois and Mass, 1993; Maas, 1990).

Plants that are able to complete their life cycles under saline conditions with enhanced growth at

moderate salinity, and are able to survive up to 340 mol m-3 NaCl are defined as halophytes

(Khan, Unger, and Showalter, 1999). Research has been conducted to investigate how halophytes

are able to adapt to highly saline conditions, largely in an effort to use their adaptive traits to

introduce their adaptive mechanisms into non-halophytic plants (Flowers and Flowers, 2002).

Salt stress can both reduce (Glenn et al., 1998; Greenway and Munns, 1980) and enhance

(Hester, Mendelssohn, and McKee, 2001) growth rates of both halophytic and non-halophytic

(glycophytic) plants. In addition, low to moderate salt stress has been found to increase root

biomass (Ben-Asher and Silberbush, 1992; Rozema and Visser, 1981; Waisel, 1985) and

accelerate reproductive growth stages (Dhingra and Varghese, 1997; Grieve, Francois, and Maas,

1994; Munns and Rawson, 1999). Grattan et al. (1994) found an increase in overall proportion of

total shoot biomass devoted to flowering in barley. In halophytic plants, biomass attributes may









not be affected by salt tolerance, because they have physiological and/or morphological

mechanisms that would allow for salt resistance, such as selective ion exclusion and secretion

(Hester et al., 2001; Hunter and Wu, 2005).

Salt tolerance requires compartmentalization and compatible solutes (Hall, Harvey, and

Flowers, 1978; Harvey, Hall, Flowers, and Kent, 1981; Larher, Jolivet, Briens, and Goas, 1982),

regulation of transpiration (Clipson and Flowers, 1987), control of leakage across the apoplast

(Yeo and Flowers, 1986), and tolerance of low potassium to sodium ratios within the cell

(Flowers and Dalmond, 1992). Some plants have salt glands which help maintain an acceptable

salt level in the leaves (Flowers and Yeo, 1986). It has been suggested that a faster growth rate

in halophytic plants allows for more mature tissue to be available for storage of excess salts away

from new growth areas (Hunter and Wu, 2005). However, it is widely held that the symptoms of

salt injury are from either osmotic effects or from the toxicity of saline ions (Hunter and Wu,

2005), although the role of each is less well understood (Bernstein and Hayward, 1958).

Greenway and Munns (1980) suggested that compartmentalization of saline ions is the most

important criteria for achieving salt tolerance in many higher plants.

Plants

Pennisetum alopecuroides

Pennisetum alopecuroides (L.) Spreng., chinese fountain grass, is a member of Poaceae,

Subfamily Panicoideae, Tribe Paniceae (USDA, NRCS 2006). It is a C4 grassland plant, native

to Asia and Australia, is best suited for USDA cold hardiness zones 5-9, and is used in

cultivation as a specimen plant. Pennisetum alopecuroides grows best in full sun in evenly moist,

well-drained soils, but can adapt to various soil types. It is readily propagated by division, and is

moderately self-sowing by seed (Darke, 1999). Pennisetum alopecuroides is a fine-textured,

mounding perennial ornamental grass that reaches to about Im tall by Im wide, with medium-










green thin (0.25" wide) foliage which radiates from basal crowns. Inflorescences are lime green

to violet 12.7cm (5 inch) long foxtail-like spikes, borne above the foliage in late summer (Darke,

1999).

Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hamelin' is a compact, mounding form of the species which

grows up to 50.4 cm (20 inches) tall by 91 cm (36 inches) wide. Foliage is medium green, and

flowers are cream-colored. Hardy in USDA zones 6a-8a, fall foliage turns yellow and persists

through winter. Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hamelin' is widely sold in the nursery trade due to

its compact habit and early flowering time that begins about two weeks earlier than the species

(Darke, 1999).

Miscanthus sinensis

M~iscanthus sinensis Anderss., also known as chinese silver grass, eulalia, or maiden grass,

is a member of Poaceae, Subfamily Panicoideae, Tribe Andropogonae. It is a C4 plant native to

tropical and temperate Asia, and is naturalized throughout the Americas, including most of the

United States (USDA, NRCS 2006). It grows best in full sun, and can adapt to various soil

textures and moisture levels. It is considered heat- and drought-tolerant, and is hardy in USDA

zones 5-9. M~iscanthus sinensis is a medium to large perennial ornamental grass (size is

dependent on cultivar) reaching anywhere from 0.9-4.5m (3-15 feet) tall by 0.6-1.8m (2-6 feet)

wide. It has an upright columnar to vase-shaped habit. Leaf size varies by cultivar, ranging from

0.6-5 cm (0.25-2 inches) wide and 0.9-1.5 m (3-5 feet) long. Leaves are medium green with or

without silver, white, cream, or yellow variegation, depending on cultivar. Inflorescences

resemble tassels and are borne above foliage, differing greatly by cultivar in time of emergence,

color, location relative to foliage, and size. M~iscanthus sinensis, with its numerous cultivars, is

one of the most common ornamental grasses used in cultivation (Darke, 1999).









M~iscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus' is a fine-textured densely arched selection with 0.6 cm

wide medium-green leaves, reaching up to 2.5 m (8 feet) in height. It bears pink inflorescences

in the fall (Darke, 1999).

M~iscanthus sinensis 'Adagio' is a fine-textured medium sized cultivar with 0.6 cm (0.25

inch) wide medium green leaves with a silver midrib. It reaches up to 1.5 m (5 feet) in height,

and bears gold to pink inflorescences in late summer (Darke, 1999).

Eragrostis spectabilis

Eragrostis spectabilis (Pursh) Steud., purple lovegrass, is a member of Poaceae, Subfamily

Chlorioideae, Tribe Eragrostidae (USDA, NRCS 2006). It is a native perennial clumping grass

found in dry, sandy and disturbed sites throughout USDA zones 5-8 in the central and eastern

U.S., Canada and Northern Mexico (Wunderlin and Hansen, 2003). Eragrostis spectabilis is a

C4 plant that spreads by rhizomes, grows best in full sun, and is tolerant of drought and a wide

range of soil types. In Florida, E. spectabilis is most often found in upland, non-wetland sites

(US Fish & Wildlife Service, 1988). It is classified as an invasive plant in Nebraska and the

Great Plains by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (Stubbendieck, 1994). Eragrostis

spectabilis has medium-green 1 cm (0.4 inch) wide foliage reaching 46-60 cm (18-24 inches) in

height. The plant has a spiky, slightly coarse texture in landscapes. Purple-red spike

inflorescences are borne above foliage in late summer to early fall, creating a 'floating cloud'

effect above the leaves that is prized for its aesthetic value in landscapes (Darke, 1999).









CHAPTER 3
DROUGHT TOLERANCE OF TWO ORNAMENTAL GRASSES

Introduction

Drought and corresponding water restrictions are forcing landscapers and consumers to

seek alternative irrigation practices and plants that require minimal irrigation for survival (Knox,

1990). Ornamental grasses are generally regarded as problem-free low maintenance plants

(Dana, 2002), and are recommended to the public for their putative low-water requirements. A

large body of research exists on the relationship between grasses and water use (Blicker et al.,

2003; Bolger et al., 2005; Greco and Cavagnaro, 2002; Guenni et al., 2002; Mohsenzadeh et al.,

2006), yet research quantifying water requirements of ornamental grasses for establishment

and/or maintenance in the residential landscape is limited (Zollinger et al., 2006). Many water

management districts have recommended native plants to their consumers (SFWMD, 2001;

SWFWMD, 2003) under the premise that Florida native plants use less water than non-native

plants (Haehle, 2004; Hostetler et al., 2003; SFWMD, 2001). Limited research has been done to

substantiate this assumption that native plants use less water than non-native plants. Kissel et al.

(1987) examined water relations of four exotic and three native New Zealand species and found

no overall difference existed between adaptation mechanisms of native and exotic species. Glenn

et al. (1998) found no difference in water use efficiency between two native and two invasive

riparian species from the Colorado River delta. However, Blicker et al. (2003) found that native

Pseudoroegneria spicata (Scribn. And Smith) and Pa~scopyrum smithii (Rybd.) produced more

biomass under drought conditions than invasive Centaurea maculosa (Lam). A study in

Australia of seven native and three introduced perennial grass species subj ected grasses to

continuous drought and found mixed results among performance of native and exotic species

(Bolger et al., 2005). Drought resistance may be less a function of a plant' s status as native or









non-native, and more that of its individual physiology and natural range (Chapman and Auge,

1994). In addition, ecology of cultivated landscapes is not the same as natural environments.

Plant selection should take into account individual site criteria and plants' cultural requirements

in addition to their native or non-native status (Anella, 2000; Knox, 1990). The objective of this

study was to evaluate non-native M~iscanthus sinensis Anderss 'Adagio', a 1.5 m tall fine-

textured C4 grass native to Asia, and the Florida native Eragrostis spectabilis (Pursh) Steud., a

0.5 m medium-textured grass, for drought response in a landscape setting.

Materials and Methods

On 25 April, 2005, 6.3 cm liners of E spectabilis and M~ sinensis 'Adagio' were planted in

native soil (Apopka fine sand series) in an open-sided clear polyethylene covered shelter

approximately 4 m tall at the University of Florida Mid-Florida Research and Education Center

in Apopka, Florida (lat. 28041'N, long. 81031'W). Thirty-two plants of each species were

planted to original container depth in six rows on 0.6 m centers in 1.5 m wide strips in a

randomized complete block design with four replicates. Planting rows were covered with 7.5-10

cm pine bark nuggets to a depth of 7.6 cm (Sunrise Landscape Supply, Inc., Orlando, Fla.).

Areas between strips were covered with 0.9 m wide strips of polypropylene ground cloth (BWI

Companies, Inc., Apopka, Fla.) to inhibit weed growth. Prior to transplant, soil under the shelter

was saturated to a depth of 0.9 m.

Four levels of irrigation treatments were applied: OL, 0.25L, 0.50L, and 0.75L. Irrigation

was applied on alternate days for a 90 day period through 25 mm polyethylene pipe and 900 gray

spray stakes (Roberts Irrigation Products, San Marcos, Calif.). Pressure compensators

(Bowsmith Super-Drip N.D., Exeter, Calif.) were placed inline for each emitter to regulate water

flow at 6.8 L/h. Two spray stakes were placed 0.46 m apart in the northwest and southeast

directions to cover a 0.21 m2 area around each plant. The Christiansen Coefficient of Uniformity










was a minimum of 0.77 prior to planting (Haman, Smalj stra, and Pitt, 1996). Irrigation of each

experimental unit was controlled as a separate zone using an automated irrigation time clock

(Model Sterling 12, Superior Controls Co., Inc., Valencia, Calif.). Irrigations began at 0500 HR

and were completed by 0600 HR each day. Flow meters (Model C700TP, ABS, Ocala, Fla.) were

installed for each zone to record irrigation volumes Monday through Friday.

Weather Data

Weather data were obtained from a weather station site at the research site. Reference

evapotranspiration (ETo) was calculated daily by a CR10X data logger (Campbell Scientific,

Logan, UT, USA) using a program supplied in Campbell's Application Note 4D. This program

calculates ETo on an hourly basis using the ASCE Penman-Monteith equation with resistances

(Allen et al. 1989). Input for ETo calculations were measured with a pyranometer (Li-190, Li-

Cor Inc., Lincoln, Neb. USA), anemometer (014, Met-One Instruments, Meford, Ore., USA),

and temperature/humidity sensor (HMP45C-L, Campbell Scientific). Rainfall was recorded with

a tipping bucket rain gauge (TE525, Texas Instruments, Dallas, TX, USA). Each midnight, the

data logger calculated daily ETo.

Growth Indices and Biomass.

At planting, 6 plants of each species were partitioned into roots and shoots, washed to

remove substrate, dried at 700C for 168 h and weighed to obtain initial shoot and root dry mass

values. Plant height, widest canopy width (width 1), and width perpendicular to the widest width

(width 2) were recorded to calculate growth indices (growth index = height x width 1 x width 2)

at transplant and every 14 d after planting. On 27 July 2005, the southernmost grass of each

replication, the plant not used for water potential readings, was destructively harvested. Shoots

were removed to the crown. To obtain root biomass gain, 1/4 segments of the soil volume

outside of the root ball and extending beyond the longest root in each quadrant were removed









from the northeast and southwest sides of each plant. Substrate or soil was removed from roots,

and shoots and roots were processed as described above. Dry masses of northeast and southeast

segments were summed and multiplied by 2 to obtain total root biomass gain. Average initial

root dry mass in the root ball and total root biomass gain were summed to obtain an estimated

total root dry mass for calculation of shoot-to-root ratios. Shoot biomass gain was calculated as

the difference between total shoot dry mass at final harvest and initial shoot dry mass. Total

biomass gain was calculated as described for shoot biomass gain. Shoot-to-root ratios were

calculated by dividing total shoot dry mass by total root dry mass.

Leaf Water Potential Measurements

Beginning 1 month after transplant (MAT), on 23 May 2005, leaf water potential ('PT) WAS

measured monthly. Measurements were made at predawn, mid-day, and dusk on the day prior to

irrigation (stressed) and the day of irrigation (unstressed). Leaf water potential was determined

with a pressure chamber (Model 3000; Soil Moisture Equipment Corp., Santa Barbara, Calif.)

using compressed N, with pressure increasing at a rate of 25 kPa-s. Measurements were made on

individual grass blades (- 10 cm long) taken from the northernmost plant of each replication. As

described by Schulze et al. (1980) and Beeson (1992), cumulative daily water stress integrals

(Suy) were calculated as the integrated area over a water potential curve and absolute value taken

for each replication on each sampling date.

Data Analysis

The experiment was conducted as a randomized complete block design with four blocks of

single plant replicates. Regression equations were calculated for final growth data, consisting of

shoot dry mass gain, root dry mass gain, biomass gain and shoot-to-root ratios as a function of

irrigation rate for each species. Regression equations were also calculated for growth indices

over time at each irrigation rate for each species. For final growth data, where at least one of the










regression lines were non-linear; data were analyzed as a 2 x 4 factorial with two species and

four irrigation rates. Similarly for growth indices, data was additionally analyzed as repeated

measures by species due to non-linear responses over time. Analysis was by split plot, with

irrigation rate as the main plot and month after transplanting as the subplot. Cumulative water

stress integral values, predawn YFT, midday 'FT, dusk YT, were analyzed as repeated measures

using a split plot design with irrigation frequency as the main plot, species as a subplot, and

stress day as a sub-subplot (Snedecor and Cochran, 1980). Each sampling date was analyzed

separately. Where significant differences were indicated, mean separation was by Fisher' s

Protected least significance differences (F-Protected LSD, Snedecor and Cochran, 1980). All

analysis was conducted using SAS (Version 9.1.3, SAS Institute, Cary, NC).

Growth Results and Discussion

Mortality

By 3 MAT, 75% and 25% of non-irrigated M. sinensis 'Adagio' and E. spectabilis plants,

respectively, were dead. E. spectabilis plants receiving 0.25L per event had a 50% mortality rate.

Biomass

Biomass gain of both M~ sinensis 'Adagio' and E. spectabilis increased with increasing

irrigation rates (Fig. 3-1A-C). Shoot, root, and total biomass gain ofM~ sinensis 'Adagio' and

root gain of E spectabilis increased quadratically while shoot and total biomass gain of E

spectabilis increased linearly (Fig. 3-1A-C). Shoot biomass gain was greatest at 0.75L

treatments and lowest for non-irrigated plants. Shoot biomass gain of E spectabilis was greater

(P<0.01) thanM.~ sinensis 'Adagio' for the 0.25L and 0.50L treatments, and similar (P>0.05) at

OL and 0.75L treatments (Fig. 3-1A). The 0.75L treatment increased shoot biomass gain of E

spectabilis by 13 1% and M. sinensis 'Adagio' by 404% relative to plants receiving 0.25L.










A treatment x species interaction (P<0.05) occurred for root biomass gain. Root biomass

gains decreased with decreasing irrigation levels. At OL and 0.25L treatments, root biomass gain

of E. spectabilis was higher than M~ sinensis 'Adagio' (Fig. 3-1B). M~ sinensis 'Adagio'

irrigated at 0.75L per event had the greatest root biomass gains, with the lowest gains occurring

in non-irrigated plants.

Irrigation rates of 0.75L resulted in greater (P<0.0001) total biomass gain than the OL

treatment. Total biomass gain of E. spectabilis was greater (P<0.015) than M~ sinensis 'Adagio'

(Fig. 3-1C). Average total biomass gain of E spectabilis was greater than M~ sinensis 'Adagio',

by 74%, 176%, and 306% for the 0.75L, 0.50L, and 0.25L treatments, respectively (Fig. 3-1C).

Observed decreases in biomass with decreased irrigation quantities are well documented.

Guenni et al. (2002) recorded a reduction in dry weight for Brachiaria brizan2tha (A. Rich.), an

african neotropical grass, when it was subjected to moderate drought stress. Dry weights of

drought-stressed Gailllllllllllllllllarda aristata Pursh were reduced by 50% and 84%, and dry weights of

Leucanthemum xsuperbum (Bergmans ex J.Ingram) Soreng & E.A.Cope were reduced by 47%

and 99%, respectively when exposed to 2- and 4-week intervals in irrigation (Zollinger et al.,

2006). Greco and Cavagnaro (2002) subj ected three varieties of native argentinean grass

Trichloris crinita (Laq.) Parodi to drought conditions, all of which showed significantly reduced

total dry weight as compared to controls receiving optimal irrigation. Fernandez et al. (2002)

found a 60% reduction in biomass of drought stressed Bouteloua eriopoda Torr. and Eragrostis

lehmanniana Nees.

Shoot-to-Root Ratio

Shoot-to-root ratios of E spectabilis were larger (P<0.000 1) than M~ sinensis 'Adagio' for

all irrigation treatments (Fig. 3-2) with ratios ofM~ sinensis 'Adagio' represented quadratically,

and E. spectabilis linearly. Ratios were similar (P>0.05) among treatments for M~ sinensis










'Adagio'. Eragrostis spectabilis plants irrigated with 0.75L had higher (P<0.05) Shoot-to-root

ratios than non-irrigated plants. All other treatments were similar (P>0.05). This is consistent

with Greco and Cavagnaro (2003), who found no significant difference in shoot-to-root ratios

between levels of drought stressed 7: crinita.

Growth Indices

Mean growth indices for both species at 0.25L, 0.50L, and 0.75L irrigation treatments

generally increased over time. Mean growth indices for the non-irrigated plants decreased over

time (Fig. 3-3A-B). For E. spectabilis, growth indices for 0.25L, 0.50L, and 0.75L treatments,

respectively increased by 28%, 49% and 71%. Growth indices ofM~ sinensis 'Adagio' receiving

0.25L, 0.50L, and 0.75L increased by 2-, 4-, and 8-fold, respectively. However, at OL and 0.25L

treatment rates, mean growth indices of both species decreased between 2 MAT and 3 MAT

(Fig. 3-3A-B). Reduced shoot growth and decreased cell elongation are common effects of

drought stress, having been observed in multiple experiments (Kalapos et al., 1996; Kramer and

Boyer, 1996; Neumann et al., 1988; Sadras and Milroy, 1996; Sakurai and Kuraishi, 1988). In

addition, significant leaf necrosis was observed with low irrigation levels. Zollinger et al., (2006)

observed leaf death and senescence as a drought avoidance mechanism in herbaceous perennials.

An irrigation rate x MAT interaction (P <0.05) was found for both species. Growth

responses corresponded to biomass gains with greater canopy size at higher application rates

(Fig. 3-1A-C; Fig. 3-3A-B). For both species, canopy size was greatest (P<0.05) at 0.75L and

smallest within the OL treatment. At 3 MAT, the 0.75L treatment increased mean growth index

of E. spectabilis by 3.75 times relative to the OL treatment and M~ sinensis 'Adagio' by 7.5 times

relative to the 0.25L treatment.









Water Potentials

Treatment effects only occurred twice during the experiment. An irrigation effect was

observed at 2 MAT for the midday YT,~ where OL (-1.7 MPa) and 0.25L (-1.6 MPa) treatments

were similar (P>0.05) yet more negative (P<0.05) than 0.50L (-1.2 MPa) and 0.75L (-1.2 MPa)

treatments. At 3 MAT, Suy was greater (P < 0.05) for non-irrigated plants (24.0 MPa-h)

compared to grasses receiving 0.25, 0.50, and 0.75L (19.3, 16.7, and 16.1 MPa-h, respectively).

Cumulative water stress was comparable (P>0.05) between 0.75L and 0.50L treatments. For

both sampling periods, YT became more negative as irrigation amount decreased, suggesting

higher stress levels occurred as less water was applied to plants.

Species effects were seen at 2 MAT and 3 MAT for predawn, midday and dusk readings;

each time, YT WAS more negative for E. spectabilis than for M. sinensis 'Adagio' except for 2

MAT predawn (Table 3-1). Cumulative water stress was greater (P < 0.05) for E. spectabilis at 2

MAT thanM.~ sinensis 'Adagio' (Table 3-1). Higher shoot-to-root ratios of E. spectabilis would

account for increased water stress due to the inability of the root system to compensate for

transpirational water losses (Gilman et al., 1998; Montague et al., 2000).

A stress day x species interaction was observed in Suy at 1 and 3 MAT (Fig. 3-4). At 2

MAT, there were no differences between stress days, but E. spectabilis had higher Suy than M~

sinensis. At 1 MAT, Suy was highest for E. spectabilis on the day prior to irrigation (stress day)

and lowest for E. spectabilis on the irrigation day (unstressed day). Cumulative water stress

results were intermediate for M sinensis 'Adagio' with comparable values between stressed and

unstressed days. Results were similar for M. sinensis 'Adagio' at 3 MAT except regardless of

stress day, Suy was higher for E. spectabilis compared toM.~ sinensis 'Adagio' (P<0.05). For E.

spectabilis, Suy was higher on the unstressed day (24.9 MPa~h) than on the stressed day (19.7

MPa~h), (P < 0.01) (Fig. 3-4). The results were likely due to weather effects. Around 1630 HR On










28 July 05, a 27 mm rainfall event (Table 3-2) occurred that reduced daily reference

evapotranspiration (ETo), solar radiation (Table 3-2) and mid-afternoon vapor pressure deficits

(VPD) (Fig. 3-5) compared to the unstressed day. Data suggest that stomatal conductance was

reduced and caused E. spectabilis to transpire less. Consequently, plants displayed reduced

cumulative water potential relative to a sunny, hot day when transpiration rates could be faster

and Suy higher. Similar results were reported by Fernandez et al. (2002), where improved leaf

water status was seen with reduced stomatal conductance. Although reduction in stomatal

conductance is a known effect of drought stress, it is also a known effect of decreased solar

radiation and temperature reduction (Taiz and Zeiger, 2002). In this case, weather conditions

appear to have caused a reduction in stomatal conduction of E spectabilis, resulting in less

negative water potentials.

Conclusions

Across treatments, both grasses showed similar trends with increased biomass gain and

growth index with increasing irrigation rates (Fig. 3-1A-C; Fig. 3-3A-B). The greatest portion of

biomass gain for both species was shoot biomass, and little species effect was seen on root

biomass gain. Shoot biomass gain of E. spectabilis was greater (P<0.05) than M~ sinensis

'Adagio' across all treatments (Fig. 3-1A). Total biomass gain of E spectabilis was greater

(P<0.05) than M~ sinensis 'Adagio' at all treatment levels above OL (Fig. 3-1C). M~iscanthus

sinensis 'Adagio' has a larger mature size of 1.5 m (5 feet) than E. spectabilis 46-60 cm (18-24

inches), (Darke, 1999). Although it is overall a smaller plant, E. spectabilis showed greater

biomass gain, mean growth indices, and larger shoot-to-root ratios across treatments. This is

most likely a result of reduced growth rate ofM. sinensis 'Adagio' due to drought stress, but

could also be a result of a faster overall growth rate of E spectabilis.










An additional possibility for increased gains ofE. spectabilis is better drought tolerance.

According to biomass and growth data, M~ sinensis 'Adagio' did not perform as well under

drought stress as E. spectabilis. However, consistently throughout the study E. spectabilis

showed more negative water potentials thanM.~ sinensis 'Adagio', which are ordinarily an

indicator of higher water stress. Nonetheless, E. spectabilis had higher final dry mass, larger

canopy size, larger shoot-to-root ratios, and less mortality than M. sinensis 'Adagio' (Fig. 3-1A-

C; Fig. 3-3A-B). Larger shoot-to-root ratios were associated with faster and larger growth and

more negative water potentials of T. crinita (Greco and Cavagnaro, 2003). These data are

consistent with biomass data (Fig. 3-1), growth indices (Fig. 3-3), and water potentials (Table 3-

1, Fig. 3-4) for E. spectabilis.

These data suggest that rather than avoiding drought through reduced growth and leaf

senescence, E. spectabilis adjusted to drought physiologically through osmotic adjustment or

larger stomatal aperture. Perdomo et al. (1996) found drought resistant kentucky bluegrass

maintained a functional, green canopy and positive turgor under moderate or severe drought

despite low ET and more negative water potentials through osmotic adjustment and larger

stomatal aperture. Overall, E. spectabilis maintained higher levels of metabolic function under

drought stress, suggesting that it is more drought-tolerant thanM.~ sinensis 'Adagio'. Although E.

spectabilis is a native plant, its higher drought tolerance thanM.~ sinensis 'Adagio' does not

necessarily imply that native grasses outperform non-natives in drought situations. Water use and

drought tolerance vary greatly from species to species, even varying by genotype within species.

Careful evaluation of individual grass species and sites should always be performed when

selecting plants for low-water use landscapes.










ru m Eragrostis, y = 48.663x + 7.3082; r2 = 0.9259
60 -1 Miscanthus, y = 42.463x2 + 4.2068x + 0.653; r2 = 0.9807


50

40

30

20

10


4-1 B
mEragrostis, y = -1.8488x2 + 2.8004x + 0.3612; r = 0.936

3 Miscanthus, y = 9.4653x2 2.7114x + 0.0733; r2 = 0.9857










00
E 70 mEragrostis, y =50.076x + 7.7849; r2 = 0.9251

60 + Miscanthus, y = 51.929x2 + 1.4954x + 0.7263; r2 = 0.9813

50

40

30-

20-

10


O 0.25 0.5 0.75
Irrigation application rate (L)

Figure 3-1. Biomass gains. A) Shoot biomass gain, B) Root biomass gain and C) Total plant
biomass gain of (m) E. spectabilis and (+) M. sinensis 'Adagio' grown for 90 days
and irrigated every other day with 0, 0.25, 0.50 or 0.75L. Error bars indicate +SE.













mEragrostis, y = 4.1843x + 0.5992; r2 = 0.8039
O 25 A Miscanthus, y = 0.2487x2 0.4801x + 0.354; r2 = 0.9131
20 -


L 15

S10





0 0.25 0.5 0.75

Irrigation application rate (L)



Figure 3-2. Shoot-to-root ratios. Ratios of E spectabilis and M~ sinensis 'Adagio' grown 90 d
and irrigated every other day with 0, 0.25, 0.50 or 0.75L water. Error bars indicate
+SE. Ratio calculated by dividing total shoot gain by total root gain.















~OL y =0.0046x2 0.0225x + 0.0687; r2 = 0.4635
m .25L y =-0.0087x2 + 0.0415x + 0.0797; r2 = 0.6479
0.25 A .5L y =-0.0001x2 + 0.0376x + 0.0684; r2 = 0.9969
e .75L y =-0.0086x2 + 0.0635x + 0.0645; r2 = 0.9806
0.2



0.15






X 0.05







0.2 B
4 OL y = 0.0039x2 0.0164x + 0.0151; r2 = 0.935
0.18
m .25L y = 0.0015X2 0.003x + 0.0111; r2 = 0.2372
0.16
A.5L y = 0.133x2 0.0361x + 0.0343; r2 =0.9948
0.14 e .75L y = 0.28x2 -0.0437x + 0.0227; r2 = 0.9952
0.12
0.1
0.08
0.06
0.04
0.02


0 1 2 3
MAT


Figure 3-3. Growth indices. Mean growth indices for E. spectabilis A) and M. sinensis 'Adagio'

B) irrigated at 0(+), 0.25(A), 0.5(H), and 0.75L(*) per event over a 3 month period
during summer in central Florida. + SE indicated by standard error bars.













Table 3-1. Water potentials. Predawn, midday, dusk, and cumulative daily water stress integrals
(Suy) calculated monthly for ornamental grass species irrigated with 0, 0.25, 0.50 or 0.75 L per
irrigation event over a 3 month period during summer in central Florida.


Predawn YfT Midday YT Dusk \fT Cumulative water stress, SY
MATz Species (MPa) (MPa) (MPa) (MPa-h)
E. spectabilis -0.131 a" -1.67 a -0.35 a 13.34 a
2 M. sinensis 'Adagio' -0.105 a -1.02 b -0.19 b 8.17 b
p-values P<0.05 P<0.0151 P<0.0305 P<0.0149
E. spectabilis -0.216 a -2.61 a -1.13 a" 22.33 a"
3 M. sinensis 'Adagio' -0.129 b -1.69 b -0.28 b 12.92 b
p-values P<0.0357 P<0.0005 P>0.05 P>0.05

zMonths after transplant.
YMeans calculated from 4 single plant replicates.
xMean separations within columns and species P<0.05.
"Values represent pooled dusk water potential species means; however, species effect cannot be clearly identified
due to a significant species x stress day interaction, P<0.05.
"Values represent pooled S\V species means; however, species effect cannot be clearly identified due to a significant
species x stress day interaction, P<0.05.















S 30

25
-: 2 0

o 0.
9 : 1 5

.w 10

S 5- ES ~I1 MS ~I1IES I~r MS I~lIES Ir MS


1 2 3

Months after transplant

Eragrostis Stressed (ES) Eragrostis Unstressed (EU) MIiscanthus Stressed (MIS) MIiscanthus Unstressed (MIU)



Figure 3-4. Water stress integrals. Cumulative daily water stress integrals (Suy) calculated monthly on the day prior to irrigation
(stressed) and irrigation day (unstressed) for E. spectabilis and M. sinensis 'Adagio' irrigated with four irrigation rates (0,
0.25, 0.50, or 0.75 L) over a 3 month period in central Florida. Each bar represents means, vertical lines represent the SE.













3.5

3

2.5

2

1.5

1

0.5

0


o Stressed Day a Unstressed Day


0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 2000 2200 2400
Hours

Figure 3-5. Hourly vapor pressure deficit (Vpd) recorded 27 (Unstressed Day) and 28 July (Stressed Day) 2005.







42


Table 3-2. Weather data. Daily maximum temperature, total incident radiation, precipitation, and
reference evapotranspiration, ETo. Weather collected by an onsite weather station.


Stressed/ Max Temp Total Solar Radiation
Date MAT Unstressed (oC) (Kw m-2) Rainfall (mm) ETo (cm)
5/23/2005 1 S 31.5 2748 0 0.253
5/24/2005 1 U 31.7 2174 0 0.2
6/23/2005 2 U 30.3 1428 0 0.135
6/24/2005 2 S 27.7 1324 10.4 0.118
7/27/2005 3 U 34.9 2681 0 0.251
7/28/2005 3 S 35.7 2149 26.9 0.203









CHAPTER 4
SALT TOLERANCE OF TWO ORNAMENTAL GRASSES

Introduction

As of 2003, 153 million people, 53% of the United States population, lived in the nation' s

673 coastal counties (Crossett et al., 2005). As coastal development increases landscape plants

that tolerate coastal conditions become critically important to the ornamental landscape industry.

Researchers have documented injury from airborne salts to plants growing near the coast

(Edwards and Holmes, 1968; Karschon, 1964; Malloch, 1972). Exposure to water with high salt

content reduces or inhibits plant growth (Belligno et al., 2002a, 2002b; Marcum, 2001; Qian et

al., 2001). Much of the research conducted on salinity tolerance concerns saline soil or saline

irrigation (Alshammary et al., 2003; Belligno et al., 2002a, 2002b; Gulzar et al., 2003; Hunter

and Wu, 2005; Marcum et al., 1999, 2005), but little research has focused on exposure to salt

spray under non-saline irrigation conditions. It is well documented that plants are often more

sensitive to saline spray than to salt applied at the root zone (Benes et al., 1996; Bernstein and

Francois, 1975; Grattan et al., 1981, 1994; Westcot and Ayers, 1984). In addition, most research

has assessed survival rates of plants under saline conditions, but few studies considered aesthetic

value of plants after foliage was exposed to water with high concentrations of salt (Marcum et

al., 2005). For landscape plantings to be successful, they must not only survive but meet high

aesthetic standards.

Many publications list suitable salt-tolerant ornamental landscape plants, but little

quantified information exists for salt tolerance of individual ornamental grass species. The

obj ective of this experiment was to determine the effect of four rates of salt spray on the

appearance, flower number, growth and mortality of2~iscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus', a fine-









textured grass native to Asia reaching 2.5 m in height, and Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hamelin',

a medium-textured grass native to Asia reaching 0.50 m in height.

Materials and Methods

On 1 July 2005, fifty-six 2.5-inch (6.3 cm) liners of2~iscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus'

maiden grass and Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hamelin' fountain grass (Emerald Coast Growers,

Pensacola, Fla.) were potted into #1 (3.8L) containers and placed on a bench in a polyethylene

greenhouse at the University of Florida Environmental Horticulture Greenhouse Complex in

Gainesville, Fla. (29038'N, 82021'W). Potting media was 5 peat: 4 pine bark: 1 sand (by

volume); (Florida Potting Soils, Inc., Orlando, Fla.). Irrigation was provided by 0.076 on-off

tube/weight emitters (one per container; Chapin Watermatics, Inc., Watertown, N.Y.) connected

to 1 inch (25.4 mm) polyethylene pipe. Plants received 0. 13 gallons (0.5L) of water twice daily.

On 7 July 2005, 6 plants of each taxon were partitioned into roots and shoots, dried at

1580F (700C) for 72 h and weighed. On 12 July 2005, carbon-filtered seawater with a salinity of

36,000 ppm was obtained from the Mote Marine Research Laboratory in Sarasota, Fla.,

separated into four 32-gallon (121L) refuse containers (Rubbermaid, Fairlawn, Ohio) and

combined with deionized water to achieve the following treatment ratios: 1 seawater:0 deionized

(100%), (36,000 mg-L^)~, 1 seawater: 1 deionized (50%), (18,000 mg-L^)~, 1 seawater:3 deionized

(25%), (9,000 mg-L^)~, O seawater: 1 deionized (0%), (0 v mg-L^)~. Treatment applications began

on 13 July 2005 and plants were treated 3 times weekly. At each application, foliage was sprayed

to runoff with a 1L spray bottle. A bottomless 32-gallon (121L) container was placed over each

plant at each application to prevent overspray to adj acent plants. Modified #3 (1 1.4L) plastic

nursery containers were inverted and installed as pot covers to prevent salt spray from reaching

the potting media.










Height, flower number, and visual rating data were collected biweekly. Height

measurements only included green foliage. Visual ratings conducted by the same three observers

at each data collection were based on foliage appearance, with 1 having no green foliage and 5

having all green foliage. In addition, root, shoot, total biomass gain, height gain (final initial)

were calculated. Mortality was also monitored throughout the data collection. After 90 days,

plants were destructively harvested, partitioned into roots and shoots, dried at 1580F (700C) for

72 h and weighed. The experiment was conducted in a completely randomized design. Height,

flowering, and visual ratings were analyzed with regression analyses. To determine differences

in biomass gains between species at specific treatment levels, mean separation was by paired t-

tests. For height, flowering, and ratings, differences among all treatment combinations within

species were determined with paired t-tests. All analysis was performed with SAS V8 (SAS

Institute, Cary N.C.).

Results and Discussion

In both 'Gracillimus' maiden grass and 'Hamelin' fountain grass, root, shoot, and whole

plant biomass gain decreased as seawater concentration increased (Fig. 4-1A-C). Root biomass

gain decreased linearly for both 'Gracillimus' maiden grass and 'Hamelin' fountain grass (Fig. 4-

1A). These observations support previous findings that increased exposure to salt concentrations

resulted in a decrease in root weight (Gulzar et al., 2003). In addition, Alshammary et al. (2004)

found that root growth of kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) reduced dramatically with

increasing soil and irrigation salinity. Root biomass gain was similar between species (P>0.05)

at all treatment levels (Fig. 4-1A). Shoot growth and biomass are good indicators of salinity

tolerance in both turfgrasses and forage grasses (Alshammary et al., 2004, Marcum and

Murdoch, 1994; Marcum et al., 2005). Shoot biomass gain of 'Gracillimus' maiden grass and

'Hamelin' fountain grass decreased linearly and quadratically, respectively as seawater treatment









concentration increased (Fig. IB). Shoot biomass gain was similar (P>0.05) for grasses treated

with 50% and 100% seawater; however, for grasses treated with 0% and 25% seawater,

'Gracillimus' maiden grass had a higher (P<0.001) shoot biomass gain than 'Hamelin' fountain

grass (Fig. 4-1B). 'Gracillimus' maiden grass is a larger, faster growing plant than 'Hamelin'

fountain grass and would be expected to have greater biomass gain under optimal conditions.

Reduced shoot biomass has been observed at high salinity levels in forage and turfgrasses

(Alshammary et al., 2004; Hunter and Wu, 2005; Gulzar et al., 2003; Belligno et al., 2002b;

Marcum et al., 2005). Shoot biomass was the maj or percentage of total biomass gained;

therefore, the two displayed similar trends (Fig. 4-1B-C).

Height of 'Gracillimus' maiden grass treated with 0% and 25% seawater increased

quadratically while 50% and 100% treatments decreased quadratically and linearly, respectively

(Fig. 4-2A). Data indicate that height of 'Gracillimus' maiden grass is sensitive to increasing

concentrations of salt spray and was reduced relative to plants not exposed to salt spray.

'Hamelin' fountain grass heights were similar (P>0.05) among 0%, 25%, and 50% treatments

but grasses treated with 100% seawater declined more rapidly (P<0.05) resulting in shorter plants

(Fig. 4-2B). Overall declines in height among treatments can be partially explained by the

presence of chlorotic and necrotic leaves. As days after treatment initiation (DATI) and salt

concentrations increased, chlorosis and necrosis increased, yet only green leaves were included

in height measurements. This correlates with findings of Hunter and Wu (2005), who observed

leaf chlorosis and necrosis as symptoms of salt stress in tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia

caespitose) and california melicgrass (M~elica californica), as well as those of Marcum (1999),

who found chlorotic leaf area to indicate salinity injury in forage and turfgrasses. Height data

are consistent with shoot biomass gain (Fig. 4-1B).










Flower numbers for 'Gracillimus' maiden grass treated with 0%, 25% and 50% seawater

increased (P<0.05) with decreasing percent seawater applied though flowering did not occur

until 70 DATI (Fig. 4-2C). 'Gracillimus' maiden grass plants treated with 100% seawater did not

flower during the experiment (Fig. 4-2C). 'Hamelin' fountain grass flower numbers increased

quadratically until 56 DATI. At 56 DATI, grasses treated with 100% seawater began to show

decreased flower number. For both species, flower numbers were similar (P<0.05) among

grasses treated with 0%, 25% and 50% seawater but substantially declined within the 100%

treatment (Fig. 4-2D). Hunter and Wu (2005) found no effect of salinity on flowering in native

California grass species. In contrast, Munns and Rawson (1999) and Dhingra and Varghese

(1997) observed an acceleration in the reproductive mode of plants under low levels of salt

stress.

Throughout the experiment, visual ratings of 'Gracillimus' maiden grass and 'Hamelin'

fountain grass were inversely correlated to salt spray level (Fig. 4-2E-F). Lower visual ratings

were due primarily to the presence of chlorotic and necrotic leaves.

Conclusions

Plants treated with 100% seawater displayed reduced height, flower number, and visual

ratings (Fig. 4-2A-F). In addition, biomass of both species of plants decreased with increasing

saltwater application rates (Fig. 4-1A-C). Of the two grass taxa, 'Gracillimus' maiden grass

showed significant height and flower number reduction across treatments, where 'Hamelin'

fountain grass only showed significantly reduced height and flower number at the 100%

saltwater application rate. Under these experimental conditions, height and flowering of

'Hamelin' fountain grass were less sensitive to saltwater spray than 'Gracillimus' maiden grass.

Neither plant is tolerant of 100% salt spray exposure, but at reduced levels of salt spray,

'Hamelin' fountain grass appears to be a more suitable selection for landscape use.








100

80

60

40


I


20 -


n Miscanthus, y = -0.8072x + 88.052, r2 = 0.9835
+ Pennisetum, y = -0.007x2 + 0.3512x + 51.397, r2 = 0.9883


m M~iscanthus, y= -0.3322x + 34.757, r2 = 0.9936>_
+ Pennisetum, y =-0.2546x + 27.463, r2 = 0.9958









Mliscanthus, y = -1.1411x + 123.29, r2 = 0.9966
+Pennisetum, y = -0.0073x2 + 0. 1302x + 78.454, r2 = 0.9975


120 1

90

60 -

30 -

0


25


50


75


100


Saltwater application rate (% seawater)
Figure 4-1. Biomass gain. A) Shoot biomass gain, B) root biomass gain and C) whole plant
biomass gain of (m) M~ sinensis 'Gracillimus' and (+) P. alopecuroides 'Hamelin'
grown for 90 d treated 3 x weekly with 0%, 25%, 50% or 100 % seawater spray.
Error bars indicate +SE.





*y= -0.0005X2 + 35.412x 683602, r2 =0.9029
Sy = -0.0002X2 + 14.202x 273905, r2= 0.5016
Sy = 1E-04X2 -7.4013x + 143272, r2 =0.8712
*,y = -7E-06X2 + 0.5219x 9729.9, r2 =0.828

14 28 42 6S 70 84


Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus'


Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hamelin'


100 ,



60 i

I

40~


20 i


- 2




10

25


20




5-
















1


A


Sy = -0.0084X2 + 650.82x -1E+07, r2 =0.9958
Sy = -0.006X2 +460.51x 9E+06, r2 =0.9812
Sy = -0.0094X2 + 722.9x -1E+07, r2 =0.9636
* y= -0.0005X2 + 37.671x 723806, r2 =0.9126


Sy = -0.0056X2 + 431.19x -8E+06, r2 =0.7426
Sy = -0.0066X2 + 512.16x 1E+07, r2= 0.7614
Sy = -0.0056X2 +435.3x 8E+06, r2 =0.8479
* y= -0.0038X2 + 289.74x 6E+06, r2 = 0.8378

+ y =-0.0166X2 +1282.5x 2E+07, r2= 0.9674
Sy = -0.0143X2 + 1106.4x 2E+07, r2 = 0.963
Sy = -0.012X2 +926.19x 2E+07, r2 =0.9731
* y= -0.0208X2 + 1602.6x 3E+07, r2 40.932


10


0-
C 140 -


y =-0.0022X2 + 0.925x 45.031, r2 1
y =0.0006X2 + 0.4956x 29.64, r2 = 1
y =0.0053X2 0.429x + 7.2512, r2 = 1


~y= -0.0001X2 + 9.8529x 190205, r2 =0.8764
Sy = -9E-05X2 +7.0029x 135031, r2= 0.3984
Sy = 7E-06X2 -0.4991x + 9582.2, r2 = 0.3892
y= 0.0002X2 -11.653x + 225141, r2 =0.9824

4 28 42 56 70 84


Days after treatment initiation


Figure 4-2. Aesthetic data. A) Height data for M. sinensis 'Gracillimus'. B) Height data for P.
alopecuroides 'Hamelin'. C) Flower number for M~ sinensis 'Gracillimus'. D) Flower
number for P. alopecuroides 'Hamelin'. E) Aesthetic ratings ofM. sinensis
'Gracillimus'. F) Aesthetic ratings of P. alopecuroides 'Hamelin'. All plants were

grown for 90d and treated 3 x weekly with 0% (+), 25% (m), 50% (A), or 100 % (*)
seawater spray.









CHAPTER 5
CONCLUSIONS

Drought Tolerance

Drought tolerant plants are important to landscapers and consumers. Ornamental grasses

are frequently recommended for low-maintenance landscapes and may be candidates for low-

water use landscapes once they have been evaluated for drought tolerance. M. sinensis 'Adagio'

and E. spectabilis were subj ected to four irrigation treatments (OL, 0.25L, 0.50L and 0.75L) to

determine drought tolerance. As irrigation level increased, root, shoot, whole plant biomass

gain, growth index, shoot-to-root ratio, and cumulative water stress integrals increased for both

taxa; however, E. spectabilis appears to be more tolerant of drought than M. sinensis 'Adagio'.

Although it is overall a smaller plant, E. spectabilis showed greater biomass gain, mean growth

indices, and larger shoot to root ratios across treatments. This is most likely a result of reduced

growth rate ofM~ sinensis 'Adagio' due to drought stress, but could also be a result of a faster

overall growth rate and better drought tolerance of E spectabilis.

Overall, E. spectabilis maintained higher levels of metabolic function under drought stress,

suggesting that it is more drought-tolerant thanM.~ sinensis 'Adagio'. Although E. spectabilis is a

native plant, its higher drought tolerance than M. sinensis 'Adagio' does not necessarily mean

that native grasses outperform non-natives in drought situations.

Salt Tolerance

Salt tolerant landscape plants are important to ornamental growers, landscapers and

residents in coastal communities. Ornamental grasses are frequently recommended for low-

maintenance landscape situations and may be candidates for coastal plantings once they are

evaluated for their salt spray tolerance. Maiden grass (M~iscanthus sinensis Anderss.

'Gracillimus') and fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides (L.) Spreng. 'Hamelin') were










subjected to four treatments (100% seawater, 50% seawater, 25% seawater, or 100% deionized

water) to determine salt spray tolerance. As seawater concentration increased, root, shoot, whole

plant biomass gain, height, flower number, and visual quality decreased for both taxa; however,

fountain grass appears to be slightly more tolerant of salt spray than maiden grass.

Water use and stress responses vary greatly from species to species, even varying by

genotype within species. Provenance plays a significant role in plant adaptation to environmental

stresses. Careful evaluation of individual taxa and site characteristics should always be

performed when selecting plants for low-water use or coastal landscapes.










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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Erin Elizabeth Alvarez was born on January 14, 1977, in Tampa, Florida. She grew up in

Atlanta, Georgia, and Palm Harbor, Florida. She graduated from East Lake High School in

Tarpon Springs, Florida in 1995. She earned her B.A. in English from the University of Florida

in 1999. After graduation, she worked in advertising at the Independent Florida Alligator in

Gainesville, Florida until 2001. She returned to school in the spring of 2001 and earned a B.S. in

environmental horticulture from UF in 2004, and a M. S. in environmental horticulture in 2006.

While in school, she worked as a landscape designer and student assistant for the Environmental

Horticulture Department.

Erin plans to teach horticulture, and design residential landscapes. She also plans to work

in conservation and education at a botanical garden or tropical ecology conservation center.