Journal Article

Carbon content variation in boles of mature sugar maple and giant sequoia

Sabah H. Lamlom and Rodney A. Savidge

in Tree Physiology

Volume 26, issue 4, pages 459-468
Published in print April 2006 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online April 2006 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/treephys/26.4.459
Carbon content variation in boles of mature sugar maple and giant sequoia

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At present, a carbon (C) content of 50% (w/w) in dry wood is widely accepted as a generic value; however, few wood C measurements have been reported. We used elemental analysis to investigate C content per unit of dry matter and observed that it varied both radially and vertically in boles of two old-growth tree species: sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) and giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum (Lindl.) Bucholz). In sugar maple there was considerable variation in tree ring widths among four radii for particular annual layers of xylem, revealing that the annual rate of C assimilation differs around the circumference and from the base of each tree to its top, but the observed variation in C content was unrelated to diameter growth rate and strongly related to the calendar year when the wood was formed. Carbon content in sugar maple wood increased in an approximately linear fashion, from < 50 to 51% from pith to cambium, at both the base and top of the boles. In giant sequoia, C was essentially constant at > 55% across many hundreds of years of heartwood, but it declined abruptly at the sapwood–heartwood boundary and remained lower in all sapwood samples, an indication that heartwood formation involves anabolic metabolism. Factors that may be responsible for the different C contents and trends with age between sugar maple and sequoia trees are considered. Tree-ring data from this study do not support some of the key assumptions made by dendrochronology.

Keywords: Acer saccharum; annual rings; cambium; cross-dating; heartwood; partitioning; sapwood; secondary growth; Sequoiadendron giganteum; wood; xylem

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Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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