Relative growth rate and its components in invasive species Heracleum sosnowskyi and congeneric native species H. sibiricum.
We studied the relative growth rate of seedlings and aboveground and underground organs, as well as functional traits of leaves and absorbing roots in the invasive species Heracleum sosnowskyi and congeneric native species H. sibiricum. The plants were grown in laboratory conditions and the functional plant traits of 21- and 35-day-old seedlings were analyzed. The relative growth rate (RGR) of H. sosnowskyi differed from that of H. sibiricum by 2.5 times, but the growth of plants in height and in area of leaves was similar. Plant biomass and total leaf area were twice as high in 35-day-old seedlings of invasive species. Structural features of the leaves in 35-day-old H. sosnowskyi seedlings were a lower leaf thickness and a higher leaf density. The invasive species had a lower root mass ratio, but the roots were more branched with a greater ratio of absorbing roots and a better development of the root hairs. As a result, H. sosnowskyi had a higher growth rate of absorbing roots (by 2 times) and a larger absorbing surface in relation to the total root surface. We concluded that the structural and functional traits of the leaves and roots provided a 2 times higher net assimilation rate (NAR) and 2.5 times larger RGR in the invasive species H. sosnowskyi.