The effects of phosphorus (P) and oxygen availability on growth, biomass allocation and nutrient use efficiency in Cladium jamaicense Crantz and Typha domingensis Pers. were studied in a growth facility equipped with steady-state hydroponic rhizotrons. The treatments included four P concentrations (10, 40, 80 and 500 ??g I-1) and two oxygen concentration (8.0 and <0.5 mg O2 I-1) in the culture solutions. In Cladium, no clear relationship was found between P availability and growth rate (19-37 mg g-1 d-1), the above to below ground biomass ratio (A/B) (mean = 4.6), or nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) (mean = 72 g dry weight g-1 N). However, the ratio between root supported tissue (leaves, rhizomes and ramets) and root biomass (S/R) (5.6-8) increased with P availability. In contrast, the growth rate (48-89 mg g-1 d-1) and the biomass ratios A/B (2.4-6.1) and S/R (5.4-10.3) of Typha increased with P availability, while NUE (71-30 g dry weight g-1 N) decreased. The proportion of root laterals was similar in the two species, but Typha had thinner root laterals (diameter = 186 ??m) than Cladium (diameter = 438 ??m) indicating a larger root surface area in Typha. The two species had a similar P use efficiency (PUE) at 10 ??g PI-1 (mean = 1134 g dry weight g-1 P) and at 40 and 80 ??g PI-1 (mean = 482 dry weight g-1 P) but the N/P ratio indicated imbalances in nutrient uptake at a higher P concentration (40 ??g PI-1) in Typha than in Cladium (10 ??g PI-1). The two species had similar root specific P accumulation rate at the two lowest P levels, whereas Typha had 3-13-fold higher P uptake rates at the two highest P levels, indicating a higher nutrient uptake capacity in Typha. The experimental oxygen concentration in the rhizosphere had only limited effect on the growth of the two species and had little effect on biomass partitioning and nutrient use efficiency. The aerenchyma in these species was probably sufficient to maintain adequate root oxygenation under partially oxygen depleted conditions. Cladium had characteristics typical for plants from nutrient poor habitats, which included slow growth rate, low capacity for P uptake and relatively inflexible biomass partitioning in response to increased P availability. In contrast, Typha demonstrated a high degree of flexibility in growth, biomass partitioning, and nutrient accumulation to P availability, similar to species from nutrient rich habitats. Although the N/P ratio indicated that Typha was more nutrient stressed at the low P levels, Typha had a higher capacity for P uptake and was more competitive than Cladium at the applied P concentrations. ?? 2001 Elsevier Science B.V.