The mechanisms behind compressive stress generation in gymnosperms are not yet fully understood. Investigating the structure–function relationships at the tissue and cell level, however, can provide new insights. Severe compression wood of all species lacks a S3 layer, has a high microfibril angle in the S2 layer and a high lignin content. Additionally, special features like helical cavities or spiral thickenings appear, which are not well understood in terms of their mechanical relevance, but need to be examined with regard to evolutionary trends in compression wood development. Thin compression wood foils and isolated tracheids of four gymnosperm species [Ginkgo biloba L., Taxus baccata L., Juniperus virginiana L., Picea abies (L.) Karst.] were investigated. The tracheids were isolated mechanically by peeling them out of the solid wood using fine tweezers. In contrast to chemical macerations, the cell wall components remained in their original condition. Tensile properties of tissue foils and tracheids were measured in a microtensile apparatus under wet conditions. Our results clearly show an evolutionary trend to a much more flexible compression wood. An interpretation with respect to compressive stress generation is discussed.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Bamber RK (1979) The origin of growth stresses. Forpride Dig 8:75–79
Bamber RK (2001) A general theory for the origin of growth stresses in reaction wood: how trees stay upright. IAWA J 22:205–212
Boyd JD (1950a) Tree growth stresses. I. Growth stress evaluation. Aust J Sci Res Ser B—Biol Sci 3:270–293
Boyd JD (1950b) Tree growth stresses. III. The origin of growth stresses. Aust J Sci Res Ser B—Biol Sci 3:294–309
Burgert I, Keckes J, Frühmann K, Fratzl P, Tschegg SE (2002) A comparison of two techniques for wood fiber isolation—evaluation by tensile tests on single fibres with different microfibril angle. Plant Biol 4:9–12
Burgert I, Frühmann K, Keckes J, Fratzl P, Stanzl-Tschegg SE (2003) Microtensile testing of wood fibres combined with video extensometry for efficient strain detection. Holzforschung 57:661–664
Cave ID (1997) Theory of X-ray measurement of microfibril angle in wood, I and II. Wood Sci Technol 31:143–152, 225–234
Cave ID, Walker JCF (1994) Stiffness of wood in fast-grown plantation softwoods: the influence of microfibril angle. For Prod J 44:43–48
Côte WA, Day AC (1965) Anatomy and ultrastructure of reaction wood. In: Côte WA (ed) Cellular ultrastructure of woody plants. Syracuse University, N.Y., pp 391–418
Frühmann K, Burgert I, Stanzl-Tschegg SE (2003) Detection of the fracture path under tensile loads through in situ tests in an ESEM chamber. Holzforschung 57:326–332
Gindl W (2002) Comparing mechanical properties of normal and compression wood in Norway spruce: the role of lignin in compression parallel to the grain. Holzforschung 56:395–401
Keckes J, Burgert I, Frühmann K, Müller M, Kölln K, Hamilton M, Burghammer M, Roth SV, Stanzl-Tschegg SE, Fratzl P (2003) Cell-wall recovery after irreversible deformation of wood. Nat Mater 2:810–814
Köhler L, Spatz H-CH (2002) Micromechanics of plant tissues beyond the linear-elastic range. Planta 215:33–40
Lichtenegger H, Reiterer A, Tschegg S, Fratzl P (1998) Determination of spiral angles of elementary fibrils in the wood cell wall: comparison of small-angle X-ray scattering and wide-angle X-ray diffraction. In: Butterfield BG (ed) Microfibril angle in wood. IAWA, USA, pp 140–156
Navi P, Rastogi PK, Gresse V, Tolou A (1995) Micromechanics of wood subjected to axial tension. Wood Sci Technol 29:411–429
Reiterer A, Lichtenegger H, Tschegg S, Fratzl P (1999) Experimental evidence for a mechanical function of the cellulose microfibril angle in wood cell walls. Phil Mag A 79:2173–2184
Spatz H-CH, Köhler L, Niklas KJ (1999) Mechanical behaviour of plant tissues: composite materials or structures? J Exp Biol 202:3269–3272
Timell TE (1978) Ultrastructure of compression wood in Ginkgo biloba. Wood Sci Technol 12:89–103
Timell TE (1983) Origin and evolution of compression wood. Holzforschung 37:1–10
Wardrop AB (1965) The formation and function of reaction wood. In: Côte WA (ed) Cellular ultrastructure of woody plants. Syracuse University, N.Y., pp 371–390
Yamamoto H (1998) Generation mechanism of growth stresses in wood cell walls: roles of lignin deposition and cellulose microfibril during cell wall maturation. Wood Sci Technol 32:171–182
Yoshizawa N, Idei T (1987) Some structural and evolutionary aspects of compression wood tracheids. Wood Fiber Sci 19:343–352
Yoshizawa N, Itoh T, Shimaji K (1982) Variation in features of compression wood among gymnosperms. Bull Utsunomiya Univ For 18:45–64
This work was supported by the “Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF)”, Project P14331-PHY. This paper is dedicated to Prof. Dr. D. Eckstein on the occasion of his 65th birthday.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Burgert, I., Frühmann, K., Keckes, J. et al. Structure–function relationships of four compression wood types: micromechanical properties at the tissue and fibre level. Trees 18, 480–485 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-004-0334-y
- Compression wood
- Microtensile tests
- Tissue foils
- Single fibres (tracheids)
- Evolutionary development