This study examined the photosynthetic and growth performances of potted plants of Cistus albidus L. and Quercus ilex L. submitted either to natural Mediterranean winter conditions or to mild greenhouse conditions. Plants grown outdoors exhibited lower light and CO2-saturated CO2 assimilation rates (Asat) and apparent quantum yield (Φi) than those indoors. Until mid-winter, C. albidus had higher Asat than Q. ilex, but differences disappeared after a period of severe cold. Maximal photochemical efficiency of PSII (Fv/Fm) measured predawn was higher in C. albidus than in Q. ilex, and decreased throughout the season in outdoor plants. Fv/Fm also decreased at light saturation (Asat) in both species. Fv/Fm was correlated with photosynthetic capacity and efficiency (quantum yield), but the resulting regression slopes were different between the two species. At the physiological level, C. albidus seemed to cope better with cold stress than Q. ilex. However, winter stress induced reduction of leaf absorptance, increased leaf mass per area, extensive leaf damage and high plant mortality in C. albidus. This suggests that the high performance of C. albidus leaves is not likely to be maintained for long periods of cold stress, and may therefore depend on continuous leaf replacement. Quercus ilex showed a conservative behaviour, with low net assimilation rates but greater leaf and plant survival than C. albidus. © 2004 Kluwer Academic Publishers.
- Mediterranean winter