Studying shoot and root architecture and growth of Quercus ithaburensis subsp. macrolepis seedlings; a key factor for successful restoration of Mediterranean ecosystems.
Quercus ithaburensis subsp. macrolepis is a species of high ecological importance. It forms some of the few deciduous oak forests in the eastern Mediterranean zone, is well adapted to Mediterranean conditions and warm dry periods, develops a deep root system, regenerates easily after fire and is used in many restoration projects. However, information on the nursery production method of Quercus macrolepis seedlings and the growth and architectural development of these produced seedlings is limited. In order to select the best cultivation method to produce high quality seedlings, the objectives of this study were to a) investigate shoot and root architecture of seedlings of Quercus ithaburensis subsp. macrolepis and b) compare the growth rates of the seedlings which were grown as bareroot (i.e. propagated in raised beds) vs. containerized in the nursery. The results of the study showed that both aboveground and belowground morphological characteristics and growth rates of container Quercus ithaburensis subsp. macrolepis seedlings outperformed those of bareroot ones. Shoot height, root collar diameter, shoot and root growth rates, number of first order lateral roots and the tap root of the container seedlings, showed significantly higher values than those of the bareroot seedlings. The high number of first order roots and the long central root of containerized seedlings would facilitate seedlings’ uptake of soil water and nutrients and confirm that they have a better chance of survival in degraded areas. However, the results obtained are not enough to discourage the production of Quercus macrolepis bareroot seedlings. The influence of root pruning, seedbed density and fertilization on the bareroot seedlings quality, deserve future investigation.
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