1. The expansion of Typha domingensis into areas once dominated by Cladium jamaicense in the Florida Everglades has been attributed to altered hydrology and phosphorus enrichment, although increased concentrations of sulphate and phosphorus often coincide. The potential importance of hydrogen sulphide produced from sulphate in the expansion of Typha has received little attention. The present study aimed to quantify the comparative growth and photosynthetic responses of Cladium and Typha to sulphate/sulphide. 2. Laboratory experiments showed that Cladium is less tolerant of sulphide than Typha. Cladium was adversely affected at sulphide concentrations of approximately 0.22 mm, while Typha continued to grow well and appeared healthy up to 0.69 mm sulphide. 3. Experiments in field mesocosms provided strong support for species-specific differences in physiology and growth. Regardless of interstitial sulphide concentrations attained, Typha grew faster and had a higher photosynthetic capacity than Cladium. However, sulphide concentrations in the mesocosms reached only 0.18 mm which, based on the hydroponic study, was insufficient to affect the growth or photosynthetic responses of either species. Nevertheless, the upper range of sulphide (0.25-0.375 mm) in Everglades' soil is high enough, based on our results, to impact Cladium but not Typha. 4. This research supports the hypothesis that sulphide accumulation could affect plant species differentially and modify species composition. Consequently, the role of sulphate loading should be considered, in conjunction with hydroperiod, phosphorus availability and disturbances, in developing future management plans for the Everglades. ?? 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.