Role of Erythronium americanum Ker. in Energy Flow and Nutrient Dynamics of a Northern Hardwood Forest Ecosystem

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Science  17 Sep 1976:
Vol. 193, Issue 4258, pp. 1126-1128
DOI: 10.1126/science.193.4258.1126


The aboveground activity of the spring herb, Erythronium americanum, is restricted to the period between snowmelt and forest canopy development. Its phenology and production capacity closely adapt the species to this temporal niche in northern deciduous forests. While E. americanum has a minor effect on energy flow, it may reduce losses of potassium and nitrogen from the ecosystem during the period of maximum removal by incorporating these elements in accumulating biomass. Later, during the summer, these nutrients are made available when the above-ground, nonperennating tissues decay.