Current issue: 53(2)
Under compilation: 53(3)
In trees, xylem must fulfil three important tasks: conducting water to leaves, storing nutrients and water, and supporting the trunk. The origin of the trunk, i.e., seed or basal bud that forms sprouts, and the growth site may affect xylem anatomy, differences of which can affect successful growth of trees. Both seedlings and sprouts of downy birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh.) from four different growth sites with two different soil media, peat and mineral soil, were studied. The diameter of fibres and vessels and the thickness of the double fibre wall were measured, and the number of vessels, rays and axial parenchyma cells was counted. The fibre wall:lumen ratio, vessel percentage area and vessel size:number ratio were calculated. Xylem from sprouts showed only occasionally more mature characteristics than that of seedlings. The number of rays was similar at all four sites, but differences were observed in all other studied characteristics between sites, particularly if soil type was different. The vessel size and number correlated with the number of axial parenchyma cells in juvenile wood, which emphasises the importance of their connections with storage cells particularly at this stage of growth. Good water conductivity was connected with weaker wood, particularly in maturing wood.
The specific pattern of the wood of Karelian birch (Betula pendula Roth var. carelica (Merckl.) Hämet-Ahti), is created mainly by dark-coloured inclusions of parenchyma tissue. Our study revealed that the greatest density of parenchyma inclusions in Karelian birch wood is observed above branch attachments to the trunk and below forks. In the place of branch attachment, phloem flows of photoassimilates (sucrose) from the branch and along the trunk merge into one pathway, causing a rise in sucrose content in tissues there. In the area below the fork, sucrose flows from two (or more) trunk axes are combined. Many studies have demonstrated that elevated sucrose level is associated with the differentiation of parenchyma. We believe that where large phloem fluxes merge a high level of sucrose promotes mass differentiation of parenchyma cells instead of fibers and vessels. As a result, the density of the figured pattern in the wood increases. The obtained data have a practical value and can be used in developing recommendations for Karelian birch cultivation.
Variation of cellular proportion within the same growth rings counted from the pith of the stems and branches in four trees of Betula pendula Roth was studied. The fibre percentage decreased from breast height to the crown and then increased in the branches. The reverse trend was found in the percentage of vessels and parenchyma, although the latter varied relatively little. No statistically significant differences were found in the percentages of fibres, vessels and rays within the same growth rings counted from the pith between the stems and branches. In both the stem and the branches, the proportion of fibres increased and that of vessels and rays decreased from the pith to the surface. Even crown formed wood differed from that of stem formed.
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