Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology

The rule-based language XL and the modelling environment GroIMP illustrated with simulated tree competition

Reinhard Hemmerling A D , Ole Kniemeyer A B , Dirk Lanwert B , Winfried Kurth A and Gerhard Buck-Sorlin C

A Brandenburg University of Technology at Cottbus, PO Box 10 13 44, 03013 Cottbus, Germany.

B University of Göttingen, Ecoinformatics, Biometrics and Forest Growth, Büsgenweg 4, 37077 Göttingen, Germany.

C Wageningen UR, Centre for Crop Systems Analysis, Haarweg 333, 6709 RZ Wageningen, The Netherlands.

D Corresponding author. Email:

This paper originates from a presentation at the 5th International Workshop on Functional–Structural Plant Models, Napier, New Zealand, November 2007.

Functional Plant Biology 35(10) 739-750
Submitted: 7 March 2008  Accepted: 30 September 2008   Published: 11 November 2008


The programming language XL (‘eXtended L-system language’) is an extension of Java, which supports the specification and execution of relational growth grammars, a variant of parallel graph grammars. XL is a powerful generalisation of the well-known L-system approach to functional–structural plant modelling. Some features of XL are discussed that are particularly useful for combining structure and function and for querying plant architectural data, and an exemplary functional–structural plant model of young beech trees is presented that is implemented in XL and includes PAR distribution, assimilate allocation and morphological plasticity. Together with a simpler model of spruce trees, this beech model is included in a virtual landscape with a mixed-species forest stand where competition for light occurs. The open-source platform GroIMP was used for the complete model development process and for visualising the results.

Additional keywords: Fagus sylvatica L., forest, L-systems, Picea abies (L.) Karst., radiation model.


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