Plant and Soil

, Volume 217, Issue 1, pp 1–15

The development of symmetry, rigidity and anchorage in the structural root system of conifers

  • M.P. Coutts
  • C.C.N. Nielsen
  • B.C. Nicoll
Article

DOI: 10.1023/A:1004578032481

Cite this article as:
Coutts, M., Nielsen, C. & Nicoll, B. Plant and Soil (1999) 217: 1. doi:10.1023/A:1004578032481
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Abstract

The stability of shallowly rooted trees can be strongly influenced by the symmetry of the ‘structural’ system of woody roots. Root systems of forest trees are often markedly asymmetric, and many of the factors affecting symmetry, including root initiation and the growth of primary and woody roots, are poorly understood. The internal and environmental factors that control the development, with respect to symmetry and rigidity, of shallow structural root systems are reviewed and discussed with particular reference to Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis Bong. Carr.). Areas where there is insufficient knowledge are highlighted. A scheme is proposed that represents the root system as a set of spokes that are variable in number, size and radial distribution. Rigidity can vary between and along each of the spokes. The root system is presented as a zone of competition for assimilates, where allocation to individual roots depends upon their position and local variations in conditions. Factors considered include the production of root primordia of different sizes, effects of soil conditions such as the supply of mineral nutrients and water on growth of primary and woody roots, and the effect of forces caused by wind action on growth of the cambium, giving rise to roots which, in cross section, resemble I- or T-beams, and efficiently resist bending.

anchorage development growth root systems symmetry tree stability 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • M.P. Coutts
    • 1
  • C.C.N. Nielsen
    • 2
  • B.C. Nicoll
    • 1
  1. 1.Forestry Commission Research AgencyNorthern Research Station, Roslin, MidlothianScotlandUK FAX No
  2. 2.Arboretum, Department of Botany, Dendrology and Forest GeneticsRoyal Veterinary and Agricultural UniversityHorsholmDenmark