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Litter quality of native herbaceous legumes in a burned pine forest of the Georgia Piedmont

Publication: Canadian Journal of Forest Research
December 1992


The objectives of this study were to compare the nitrogen retranslocation efficiency and the litter substrate quality of eight native and one naturalized herbaceous legume species growing in a periodically burned pine forest of the Georgia Piedmont. A survey of the nine species revealed a wide range of nitrogen retranslocation (8.3–51.9%) from senescent leaf tissue, as well as differences in nitrogen concentrations (0.9–2.5%), C:N ratios (17.7–51.2), and initial lignin contents (8.6–20.1%) of senescent leaves. Intraspecific differences in Desmodiumviridiflorum L., Lespedezahirta L., and Lespedezaprocumbens Michx. were found in the leaf, stem, coarse- and fine-root tissue C:N ratio and in the lignin concentrations. Overall, the litter of these nitrogen-fixing herbaceous legumes is predicted to decompose at moderate rates and may have a significant effect upon the long-term soil organic matter and soil nitrogen accumulations of frequently burned forest sites.


Les objectifs de cette étude consistaient à comparer l'efficacité de la résorption de l'azote et la qualité de substrat dans la litière de huit espèces indigènes et d'une espèce introduite de légumineuses herbacées croissant dans une forêt de pin du Piedmont en Géorgie qui subit périodiquement l'action du feu. Un relevé des neuf espèces a révélé une très grande variation (8,3–51,9%) dans la résorption de l'azote à partir des feuilles sénescentes aussi bien que des différences dans les concentrations d'azote (0,9–2,5%), les ratios C:N (17,7–51,2) et le contenu initial en lignine (8,6–20,1%) des feuilles sénescentes. Des différences intraspécifiques dans la concentration de lignine et le ratio C:N des tissus des feuilles, de la tige, des grosses racines et des racines fines ont été observées chez Desmodiumviridiflorum L., Lespedezahirta L. et Lespedezaprocumbens Michx. De façon générale, on peut prévoir que la litière de ces légumineuses herbacées se décomposera à un rythme modéré et qu'elle pourrait avoir un effet significatif à long terme sur la matière organique et l'accumulation d'azote dans le sol de ces sites forestiers fréquemment soumis à l'action du feu. [Traduit par la rédaction]

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cover image Canadian Journal of Forest Research
Canadian Journal of Forest Research
Volume 22Number 12December 1992
Pages: 2007 - 2010


Version of record online: 9 February 2011


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