Radial wood allocation in Schizolobium parahyba

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PREMISE OF THE STUDY: Pioneer species of tropical trees allocate wood specific gravity (SG) differently across the radius. Some species exhibit relatively uniform, low SG wood, whereas many others exhibit linear increases in SG across the radius. Here, we measured changes in SG across the radius of Schizolobium parahyba (Fabaceae-Caesalpinioideae), a wide-ranging, neotropical pioneer, used extensively in land reclamation and forest restoration in Brazil. METHODS: Pith-to-bark radial wood cores were extracted with increment borers from 42 trees at five sites, in Central and South America. Cores were cut into 1-cm segments whose specific gravities were determined and analyzed via linear and nonlinear regression. Wood specific gravity, very low initially at 0.15-0.20, doubled or tripled across the tree radius to 0.45-0.65 for large adults. KEY RESULTS: Unlike linear increases in other tropical pioneers, the increases in Schizolobium were nonlinear (convex up). At one site with even-aged trees, the magnitude of the radial increase was similar in all trees, despite a 4-fold difference in diameter among trees, implying that the radial increases in Schizolobium were regulated by tree age, not by tree size. CONCLUSIONS: This unique pattern of development should provide an extended period of growth when SG is low, facilitating hyper-extension of the bole, at some risk of structural failure. Later in growth, the SG rate of increase accelerates, reinforcing what was a precarious bole. Overall, these results suggest a third model for xylem allocation in tropical trees, a model that may be associated with monopodial stem development and limited life span.

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American journal of botany

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