, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 1395–1413 | Cite as

A model of stem growth and wood formation in Pinus radiata

  • David M. Drew
  • Geoff Downes
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Biomechanics


Key message

A model of wood formation processes in pines predicted 80 % of mean wood density variation from inputs of carbohydrate allocation and tree water status from several varied sites.


Numerous factors determine how wood properties vary as a tree grows. In order to model wood formation, a framework that considers the various xylogenetic processes is required. We describe a new model of xylem development and wood formation in pines (parameterised for the commercially important species, Pinus radiata D. Don). In this paper, we use as inputs simulated daily data from the CaBala stand growth model which, in turn, takes into account site and daily weather conditions, and silviculture. It incorporates a first attempt at predicting microfibril angle (the angle of cellulose microfibrils relative to the vertical axis of the cell, MFA) based on metrics of cambial vigour and carbohydrate allocation. It also predicts tracheid dimensions and wall thickness, and from these data, wood density. Pith-to-bark and intra-annual variation in predicted wood properties was realistic across a wide range of site types, although juvenile wood properties were weakly predicted. The model was able to explain 50 % of the variation in outerwood MFA and 70–80 % of the variation in outerwood and mean sample wood density respectively, from 17 study sites. The model, early results from which are very promising, provides a useful framework for testing concepts of how formation occurs, and to provide insights into areas where further research is needed.


Cambium Pinus radiata Secondary thickening Carbohydrate allocation Wood density Microfibril angle Xylem 



This work was funded by Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA), Forestry SA, Hancock Victoria Plantations (HVP), Scion and the CSIRO Sustainable Agriculture Flagship. Thank you to Warwick Gill for embedding and sectioning work, Jody Bruce and Michael Battaglia for their advice during the setting up of model scenarios in Cabala. Also thanks to staff at CSIRO (Dale Worledge), Forestry SA (Jim O’Hehir, Don McGuire and Stuart Adam), HVP (Stephen Elms and Ross Gillies) and Scion (Jonathan Harrington), all of whom contributed to the work in various important ways. Thanks to Chris Beadle, Daniel Mendham and Patrick Mitchell for helpful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CSIRO Sustainable Agriculture FlagshipHobartAustralia
  2. 2.Forest Quality Pty. Ltd.HuonvilleAustralia

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