I have been introduced to the term "phytomass" and I was wondering if phytomass can be both photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic?


1 Answer 1


"Biomass is defined as live material, necromass as dead, attached material. Biomass + necromass form the "standing crop" or phytomass." (from https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-642-68786-0_22)

  • But even if we were only talking about biomass, there is only a loose correlation between that and photosynthetic activity - think about single-celled algae, where 'every' cell is photosynthesizing, versus trees, where most cells are non-photosynthesizing, and there may even be times where none are (in trees that loose their foliage in winter).
  • $\begingroup$ Oh I see. Is true though that phytomass has both photosynthesising and non-photosynthesising components (with the majority being non-photosynthesising)? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 18, 2020 at 10:08
  • $\begingroup$ That depends on what those 'components' are - if you are counting cells, the answer is a clear yes, if you are counting organisms the answer would be no, and if talk about mass, i don't know. - 'Phytomass' and 'biomass' are both in need of a qualification if you are going to use those terms - 'biomass' might also be the sum of all living organisms, and is also sometimes used for some types of harvest (plant matter for instance), where the 'bio' only refers to the formerly living state of the matter... $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    Commented Jun 18, 2020 at 11:17
  • $\begingroup$ .. also note that in my answer - citation the phytomass only comprises 'attached' dead material, whereas sometimes it can also comprise all dead former plant material. $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    Commented Jun 18, 2020 at 11:21

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