Growth characteristics of forest lianas: Costs and risks associated with the host-dependent support strategy.
Although lianas (woody climbers) are a phylogenetically and functionally important group of land plants, there is very little information on individual-scale liana growth in the field. Based on previous studies of temperate liana species, this study investigated how liana plants grow to the forest canopy. The paper discusses the potential benefits and costs associated with the hostdependent support strategy. The host-dependent support habit enables plants to reduce resource investments in mechanical tissues, thereby attaining greater stem extension every year, while maintaining a large leaf-to-stem mass ratio. These features could be a great advantage in competition for light or growth in shady environments. However, this habit requires a continuous search for host structures, and plants can be damaged and even fall to the ground when the hosts collapse. These factors, representing the costs and risks associated with host-dependent growth, may limit plant growth over protracted periods.