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Trees

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 125–135 | Cite as

Function of spiral grain in trees

  • Hans Kubler
Review Article

Summary

Through spiral grain, conduits for sap lead from each root to all branches. This uniform distribution of sap is indicated by the paths of vessels and tracheids, and has been proven experimentally by means of dyed sap injected into the base of stems or taken up by roots. Trees receiving water only from roots at one side of the root collar nevertheless stay green and continue growing. Spiral grain in bark distributes food from each branch to other flanks of the stem and to most roots. Experimental interruptions of the sap and food conduits caused the cambial zone to reorient new conduit cells in new directions, bypassing the interruption. In particular, spiral grooves cut into the stem surface caused spiral grain. The new cells reorient through division and growth. Although spiral grain is largely under genetic control, trees appear to have a spiral grain especially where needed for distribution of water when root spheres are dry at one side. Compared with straight-grained trees, spiral-grained stems and branches bend and twist more when exposed to strong wind, in this way offering less wind resistance and being less likely to break. Through the bending and twisting, snow slides down from branches rather than breaking them, but the main function of spiral grain is the uniform distribution of supplies from each root to all branches, and from each branch to many roots.

Key words

Transport Strength Fiber deviations Cambial growth Reorientation 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Kubler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ForestryUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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