Journal Article

Effects of winter temperatures on two birch (<i>Betula</i>) species

Abraham J. Miller-Rushing and Richard B. Primack

in Tree Physiology

Volume 28, issue 4, pages 659-664
Published in print April 2008 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online April 2008 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/treephys/28.4.659
Effects of winter temperatures on two birch (Betula) species

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In Massachusetts, low winter temperatures delay the onset of flowering in black birch (Betula lenta L.), but not in gray birch (B. populifolia Marsh.). During the winter of 2006, male inflorescences and twigs of black birch had higher water contents than those of gray birch, and the inflorescences of black birch experienced greater frost kill than those of gray birch. Vessels diameters were greater in black than in gray birch, a difference associated with a higher incidence of winter xylem embolism, as indicated by reduced xylem hydraulic conductance. In both species, recovery of hydraulic conductance in twigs that survived the winter coincided with the development of root pressure. Frost kill to male inflorescences or associated damage to plant tissues may account for the difference between species in the effect of winter temperature on the time of first flowering. In a comparison of 24 birch species, sensitivity of the first flowering date to temperature was also correlated with water content in male inflorescences.

Keywords: cavitation; climate change; embolism; flowers; freezing; global warming; inflorescences; Massachusetts; phenology; xylem

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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