Aims The correlations between leaf thickness and vein traits influenced the leaf hydraulic dynamic balance, and there were important meanings to reveal ecophysiological mechanisms of plant leaves water transport and growth rate. Our objective was to study the changes in the relationship between leaf thickness and vein traits (vein diameter, vein density) of Achnatherum splendenspopulations by using standardized major axis estimation (SMA) method under different soil moisture conditions located in flood plain wetland of Zhangye.Methods The study site was located at flood plains wetland of Zhangye, Gansu Province, China. Selecting a starting point along the vertical direction of the river, in turn, along the soil moisture gradient, four plots were set up at intervals of 40 m, plot I (50.07%), plot II (38.77%), plot III (31.5%) and plot IV (20.4%). From each of the four sample plots, seven samples were collected, resulting in (5 m × 5 m) a total of 28 samples. Community traits (height, density) and soil physical and chemical properties were investigated. Six individual samplings of A. splendens from each plot were used to measure the leaf thickness, vein density and vein diameter in laboratory. In addition, the photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), leaf net photosynthetic rate (Pn) and transpiration rate (Tr) of A. splendens were measured in natural environment. The 28 plots were categorized into groups I, II, III and IV, and SMA estimation method was then used to examine the allometric relationship among leaf thickness, vein density and vein diameter. Important findings With a decreased soil moisture, the plant density and height displayed a pattern of steadily declining, while the soil electrical conductivity increased, In addition, the vein density, leaf thickness, water use efficiency (WUE), PAR and twig number of A. splendens displayed a pattern of initial decrease, whereas the vein diameter and Tr increase gradually, Pn and plant high displayed changing trends of increasing-decreasing. The leaf thickness was negatively associated with the vein density, vein diameter, and the relationship varied with the soil moisture conditions (p< 0.05). There was a significant positive relationship (p < 0.05) between the leaf thickness and vein density. The SMA slope of the regression equation gradually decreased and was significantly different from 1.0 (p < 0.05) on plot I and IV. In addition, along decreased soil moisture, the standardized major axis slope of regression equation in the scaling relationships between the leaf thickness and vein diameter gradually increased and was significantly different from -1.0 (p < 0.05) on plot I and IV.