Morphological plasticity in the rhizome system of Solidago gigantea (Asteraceae): comparison of populations in a wet and a dry habitat.
This study was motivated by the fact that although the plasticity of its above-ground organs is obvious in natural conditions and there are many data on the plasticity of Solidago's rhizome system in glasshouse experiments, there are no data on below-ground plasticity under natural conditions. We compared the morphology of rhizomes in two, contrasting habitats. We found that rhizome system responded to environmental conditions: in the dry habitat, ramets developed more but shorter rhizomes compared to the wet habitat. The decrease in rhizome length can be explained by the decrease in the size of above-ground organs, but the increase of rhizome number cannot. The most important regulating factor of rhizome growth is probably its mechanical restriction by the root biomass of other species.