The survival, height and leaf production of seedlings and juveniles of Aspidosperma fendleri and Richena grandis were measured monthly for three years after germination. During the first year, some seedlings and juveniles of Aspidosperma fendleri were collected and the number of rootlets, the primary root length and the shoot: root ratio were determined.
Both species show periodicity in growth but their relative growth rate differs between species. For Aspidosperma fendleri, the highest relative growth rate (0.313 y-1) was found for individuals grown under greenhouse conditions followed by individuals growing in an old forest gap (0.143 y-1) and finally individuals under the forest canopy (0.137 y-1). For Richeria grandis, the relative growth rate under the forest canopy was 0.261 y-1. Leaf production for Aspidosperma fendleri in the forest (natural conditions) was 4.39 total mean leaf number for five years and 5.46 total mean leaf number under greenhouse conditions. For Richeria grandis it was 5.34 mean leaf production for four years. The root: shoot ratio for Aspidosperma fendleri was constant during the observation year. Aspidosperma fendleri showed a lower number of rootlets than did Richeria grandis. There was an inverse relationship between growth and survival during the dry season. During this period, mortality was higher and the highest mortality occurred during the first year when the total relative growth rate was highest.
Slow growth is evident in both species. This mechanism may represent an adaptive advantage to remain dormant until there is an opening in the forest canopy. Since the seeds of Aspidosperma fendleri and Richeria grandis are highly vulnerable to predators and pathogens, slow growth as seedlings and juveniles allows them to survive, and contributes to regeneration in cloud forest.