Great Basin Naturalist


Thirty-eight accessions of 20 taxa (species and subspecies) of Chrysothamnus from a range of environments were grown in a uniform garden. During mid-June, terminal and lateral leaves were removed, fixed, and processed for light-microscopy studies. Area and perimeter measurements of ink tracings of midleaf vein cross sections were measured using computer-scan techniques. Leaf area and perimeter were compared with vein perimeter and area measurements. Area and perimeter of these Chrysothamnus leaves varied in response to the environment at the collection location. Plants native to hot, dry conditions had small, thick leaves, whereas plants native to cooler, more mesic conditions had relatively large, thin leaves. Similarly, leaves with round veins were adapted to hot, dry environments and leaves with elliptical veins were adapted to cooler, more mesic environments. Both terminal (young) and lateral (older) leaves were sampled. Terminal leaves showed significant (p < .05) correlational responses to environmental parameters, whereas the lateral leaves, while fronding in the predicted morphological directions, did not generally show significant responses. The different responses of terminal and lateral leaves may have been due to canopy position and uniform environmental conditions of the garden. Leaves with large cross sections characteristically had large veins, and leaves with small cross sections characteristically had small veins. Large leaf cross sections were normally flat. Small leaf cross sections were normally round. Decreasing leaf size and increasing leaf thickness were correlated with aridity.