Does Photosynthetic Bark have a Role in the Production of Core vs. Outer Wood?


  • Barbara L. Gartner


Core wood, crown wood, wood quality, tracheid length, fiber length, periderm, tracheid, juvenile wood, cambium, phellogen


This paper hypothesizes a correlation in some species between the cambial age of transition from core (juvenile) to outer (mature) wood and the cambial age of transition from photosynthetic to non-photosynthetic bark. Secondly, this paper hypothesizes that the relationship is causal: a signal produced in relation to the photosynthetic bark affects wood development a few millimeters away. It is further hypothesized that the photosynthetic periderm is replaced by a non-photosynthetic one at light levels below its light compensation point. In T'suga heterophylla and Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii, the cambial age at which the first periderm dies (the base of photosynthetic bark) ranges from 16 to 33 and 12 to 43 years, respectively, for four Oregon Coast Range populations. These values are in the same range as the cambial ages of transition from core to outer wood, as shown by literature values and data reported here on tracheid length in T. heterophylla. In both species, the cambial age at the base of the live crown is not coincident with, nor consistently higher or lower than, the height of the lowest photosynthetic bark. Data presented here are consistent with the photosynthetic bark hypothesis of formation of core wood, but manipulative studies are needed to further explore the relationship.


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