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Root development in rattans 1. A quantitative study of the roots in two species of Calamus L.

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The development of root systems of Calamus thwaitesii and C. rotang was studied for 3 years from seed germination. At the end of the period both species had almost the same number of main roots: C. thwaitesii had 28 main roots with a mean length of 45.74 cm and diameter of 3.68 mm and C. rotang had 25 main roots with a mean length of 38.70 cm and diameter of 2.8 mm. There were more laterals in C. thwaitesii and more sub-laterals in C. rotang. A significant difference between the two species was noted with respect to length and diameter of laterals. When there was an increased elongation rate in main roots, there was a decrease in the rate of growth of laterals and vice versa. Vertical growth was predominant during the early stages. The root system of a 3-year-old seedling of C. rotang showed more horizontal spread compared to C. thwaitesii. In C. rotang 68% of variation in length and 78% of variation in diameter could be explained by the age of the plant while in C. thwaitesii 42% of the variation in root length and 57% of the variation in diameter could be explained by the age of the plant. The age factor influences the root distribution pattern and, hence, determines the area around the plants where soil work needs to be done to open basins to hold water and for manuring. For a 3-year-old C. rotang soil work should be done at 45–50 cm around the plant and for a 3-year-old C. thwaitesii this would be less, at about 30 cm.


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