Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am J Bot. 2010 Dec;97(12):1944-50. doi: 10.3732/ajb.1000045. Epub 2010 Nov 15.

Why does Viola hondoensis (Violaceae) shed its winter leaves in spring?

Author information

  • 1Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University, Aoba, Sendai 980-8578, Japan.



Viola hondoensis is a perennial herb that inhabits the understory of temperate, deciduous forests. It is an evergreen plant with a leaf life span that is shorter than a year. Its summer leaves are produced in spring and shed in autumn; winter leaves are produced in autumn and shed in spring. Here we asked why the plant sheds its winter leaves in spring, though climate conditions improve from spring to summer. We proposed four hypotheses for the cause of shedding: (1) changes in seasonal environment such as day length or air temperature, (2) shading by canopy deciduous trees, (3) self-shading by taller summer leaves, and (4) competition for nutrients between summer and winter leaves. •


To test these hypotheses, we manipulated the environment of winter leaves: (1) plants were transplanted to the open site where there was no shading by canopy trees. (2) Petioles of summer leaves were anchored to the soil surface to avoid shading of winter leaves. (3) Sink organs were removed to eliminate nutrient competition. •


Longevity of winter leaves was extended when shading by summer leaves was eliminated and when sink organs were removed, but not when plants were transplanted to the open site. •


We conclude that the relative difference in light availability between summer and winter leaves is a critical factor for regulation of leaf shedding, consistent with the theory of maximization of the whole-plant photosynthesis.

Free full text

LinkOut - more resources

Full Text Sources

Other Literature Sources

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk