Plant water status and hydraulic conductance during flowering in the southern California coastal sage shrub Salvia mellifera (Lamiaceae)

Susan C. Lambrecht, Louis S. Santiago, Caroline M. DeVan, J. Carlos Cervera, Cara M. Stripe, Lee A. Buckingham, Sarah C. Pasquini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Premise of the Study: Plant water status during flowering is important for plant reproduction, but the physiology of floral water use is not well understood. We investigated plant water status in relation to leaf and floral physiology in naturally occurring individuals of a semiarid shrub, Salvia mellifera E. Greene. Methods: We measured stomatal (g s) and corolla (g c) conductance to water vapor, transpiration from leaves (E leaf) and corollas (E corolla), leaf-specific hydraulic conductance (K H), bulk shoot water potential (Ψ shoot), and shoot water content on irrigated and control plants to analyze whether water was limiting to leaf and floral water use. Key Results: Experimental irrigation caused a 203% increase in soil moisture content, a 20% increase in predawn Ψ shoot, a 29% increase in midday Ψ shoot, and a 92% increase in K H. Floral and leaf gas exchange did not respond significantly to water addition, indicating that rates were at seasonal maxima and not limited by water availability. Total daily water use by corollas was ~20% of total shoot water use. There were no significant differences in total daily shoot water use with water addition. Mean shoot water content (5.07 g) was close to mean daily shoot water use (6.71 g), indicating that the equivalent of total shoot water content turned over every 0.76 d. Conclusions: These results demonstrate that although irrigation improved whole-plant hydraulic conductance, gas exchange was not limited by water availability. Additionally, the high water use of flowers in this species might limit future flowering and reproductive success during dry years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1286-1292
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


  • Coastal sage scrub
  • Corolla conductance
  • Fl oral physiology
  • Hydraulic conductance
  • Plant reproduction
  • Salvia mellifera
  • Soil water content
  • Stomatal conductance
  • Transpiration
  • Water potential


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