- • Leaf nitrogen and phosphorus stoichiometry of Chinese terrestrial plants was studied based on a national data set including 753 species across the country.
- • Geometric means were calculated for functional groups based on life form, phylogeny and photosynthetic pathway, as well as for all 753 species. The relationships between leaf N and P stoichiometric traits and latitude (and temperature) were analysed.
- • The geometric means of leaf N, P, and N : P ratio for the 753 species were 18.6 and 1.21 mg g−1 and 14.4, respectively. With increasing latitude (decreasing mean annual temperature, MAT), leaf N and P increased, but the N : P ratio did not show significant changes.
- • Although patterns of leaf N, P and N : P ratios across the functional groups were generally consistent with those reported previously, the overall N : P ratio of China's flora was considerably higher than the global averages, probably caused by a greater shortage of soil P in China than elsewhere. The relationships between leaf N, P and N : P ratio and latitude (and MAT) also suggested the existence of broad biogeographical patterns of these leaf traits in Chinese flora.