Aim The response of L. salicaria and P. australis plants originating from a broad latitudinal gradient to mineral nutrient and water supply was studied. We suggest implications for mechanisms possibly underlying the invasiveness of these two plant species.
Location A common garden tub experiment was carried out at Třeboň, Czech Republic (49° N 14°47′ E, altitude 433 m).
Methods Plants of 30 L. salicaria and 6 P. australis populations originating from a wide geographical area in Europe and in Israel (60°−32° N latitude, 6° W−20° E longitude) were cultivated for one growing season at two water levels and three (L. salicaria) or two (P. australis) nutrient doses, respectively. At the end of cultivation, basic morphological and growth characteristics were recorded.
Results The latitude of the original geographical location was the most significant factor, affecting both the phenology and most of the plant morphological and growth characteristics measured in both plant species, with the characteristics related to plant size being negatively correlated with latitude. The effect of nutrient dose was very strong in both species, while the effect of water level was more pronounced in P. australis than in L. salicaria.
Main conclusions The results confirmed the existence of a large phenotypic variability in both plant species within their native ranges of occurrence. In both plant species, the latitudinal variation in plant morphological and growth characteristics most probably indicates the differentiation of genotypes adapted to local geographical conditions. The plants of both species originating from all geographical locations tested responded to the respective nutrient treatments in a similar manner. Exceptions were found in growth characteristics related to reproduction in L. salicaria, indicating that better nutrient supply could enhance the reproductive ability of certain genotypes. Based on the results obtained, we suggest implications for mechanisms possibly underlying the invasiveness of the plant species studied.