, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 176–185 | Cite as

Root and stem partitioning of Pinus taeda

  • Timothy J. Albaugh
  • H. Lee Allen
  • Lance W. Kress
Original Article


We measured root and stem mass at three sites (Piedmont (P), Coastal Plain (C), and Sandhills (S)) in the southeastern United States. Stand density, soil texture and drainage, genetic makeup and environmental conditions varied with site while differences in tree size at each site were induced with fertilizer additions. Across sites, root mass was about one half of stem mass when estimated on a per hectare basis. Stem mass per hectare explained 91% of the variation in root mass per hectare, while mean tree diameter at breast height (D), site, and site by measurement year were significant variables explaining an additional 6% of the variation in root mass per hectare. At the S site, the root:stem ratio decreased from 0.7 to 0.5 when mean tree D increased from 10 to 22 cm. At the P and C sites, where mean root:stem ratios were 0.40 and 0.47, respectively, no significant slope in the root:stem to mean tree D relationship was found over a more narrow range in mean tree D (12–15 and 12–18 cm, respectively). Roots were observed in the deepest layers measured (190, 190, and 290 cm for the P, C, and S sites, respectively); however, the asymptotically decreasing root mass per layer indicated the bulk of roots were measured. Root growth relative to stem growth would need to change with increased mean tree D to explain the results observed here. While these changes in growth rate among plant components may differ across sites, stem mass alone does a good job of estimating root mass across sites.


Rooting depth Soil characteristics Tree diameter Site 



This work contributes to the Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystem (GCTE) core project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP). We gratefully acknowledge the support provided by the USDA Forest Service Southern Forest Experiment Station, the Southern Global Change Program, the Department of Forestry, North Carolina State University, and members of the Forest Nutrition Cooperative. This paper has not been subject to USDA Forest Service policy review and should not be construed to represent the policies of that Agency. The use of trade names in this paper does not imply endorsement by the associated agencies of the products named, or criticism of similar ones not mentioned.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy J. Albaugh
    • 1
  • H. Lee Allen
    • 1
  • Lance W. Kress
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ForestryNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.USDA Forest ServiceNCUSA

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