Responses of Leymus arenarius to nutrients: improvement of seed production and seedling establishment for land reclamation

  • Published source details Greipsson S. & Davy A.J. (1997) Responses of Leymus arenarius to nutrients: improvement of seed production and seedling establishment for land reclamation. Journal of Applied Ecology, 34, 1165-1176.


Iceland has vast areas of mobile sand resulting from volcanic activity, glaciers, over-grazing and erosion. Seed of the coastal, dune-building lyme-grass Leymus (Elymus) arenarius is harvested from natural stands for use in land reclamation and stabilisation programmes. The large scale of use dictates that establishment must be through seed rather than clonal propagation. This study investigated the use of fertilizer treatments in managing the production of seeds in a series of four experiments. This study investigated the effects of fertilizer treatments on seedling growth with the possibility of enhancing seed production, in a glasshouse experiment.

Experimental site: Lyme-grass seed collected in Vatnsbær, Iceland in autumn 1989 were transferred to the University of East Anglia, Norfolk, England and allowed to germinate in March 1990. Seedlings were planted singly in sterile sand in plastic pots (12.7 cm top diameter, 12 cm tall).

Nutrient addition and cultivation: They were given different combinations in culture solutions of the three macro-nutrient elements: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Each macro-nutrient was omitted sequentially ( five replicates of each) to investigate effects on growth and biomass allocation.

Seedlings were grown in a heated glasshouse at the university for 90 days with supplementary light to give a 16 h day length. Each pot received 50 mL of the appropriate nutrient on alternate days, and 50 mL of deionized water on alternate days if sunny. After 90 days they were harvested and root, rhizome, stem and leaf mass were determined, and leaf area was measured.

This glasshouse experiment indicated that Leymus arenarius plants severely deprived of P allocated more dry mass to roots and rhizomes, and those deprived of K allocated more to above-ground parts. These responses might be manipulated under field conditions to improve establishment in slowly and rapidly accreting environments, respectively.

Note: If using or referring to this published study, please read and quote the original paper.

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