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An investigation into the possible inhibitory effects of white cypress pine (Callitris glaucophylla) litter on the germination and growth of associated ground cover species

Harris, Mark R., Lamb, David, Erskine, Peter D.
Australian journal of botany 2003 v.51 no.1 pp. 93-102
Callitris glaucophylla, Pinus, allelochemicals, chemical compounds, coarse-textured soils, germination, grasses, greenhouses, pure stands, roots, seedling emergence, seedling growth, seedlings, shrubs, water holding capacity, water stress
White cypress-pine stands typically support sparse densities of shrubs and grasses. The commonly held opinion is that leaching of allelopathic chemical compounds from cypress-pine litter partly facilitates this exclusion. Germination and growth of cypress pine seedlings do not appear to be similarly affected. This study set out to determine whether cypress litter had a differential effect on germination and growth of cypress-pine seedlings and on associated ground-cover species. Glasshouse trials comparing seedling emergence under cypress- and artificial-litter layers were undertaken. Cypress-pine litter did not have an inhibitory effect on the germination or growth of ground-cover species. In most cases, seedling emergence was facilitated by the application of cypress-pine litter due to its ability to increase the water holding capacity of the underlying soil. Cypress litter did not promote growth of its own seedlings over its competitors except on coarse-textured soils where it provided an ameliorative function to water stress due to the soil's reduced water holding capacity. The inhibition of ground-cover species' germination and growth in pure cypress stands was suggested to be the result of high below-ground resource competition due to the pine's expansive root morphology.