Water relations of coast redwood planted in the semi-arid climate of southern California


E. Litvak. Fax: 1 949 824 3874; e-mail: elitvak@uci.edu


Trees planted in urban landscapes in southern California are often exposed to an unusual combination of high atmospheric evaporative demand and moist soil conditions caused by irrigation. The water relations of species transplanted into these conditions are uncertain. We investigated the water relations of coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) planted in the urbanized semi-arid Los Angeles Basin, where it often experiences leaf chlorosis and senescence. We measured the sap flux (JO) and hydraulic properties of irrigated trees at three sites in the Los Angeles region. We observed relatively strong stomatal regulation in response to atmospheric vapour pressure deficit (D; JO saturated at D < 1 kPa), and a linear response of JO to photosynthetically active radiation. Total tree water use by coast redwood was relatively low, with plot-level transpiration rates below 1 mm d−1. There was some evidence of xylem cavitation during the summer, which appeared to be reversed in fall and early winter. We conclude that water stress was not a direct factor in causing leaf chlorosis and senescence as has been proposed. Instead, the relatively strong stomatal control that is adaptive in the native habitat of coast redwood may lead to carbon limitation and other stresses in semi-arid, irrigated habitats.