, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 941–951 | Cite as

Wound reaction after bark harvesting: microscopic and macroscopic phenomena in ten medicinal tree species (Benin)

  • Claire DelvauxEmail author
  • Brice Sinsin
  • Patrick Van Damme
  • Hans Beeckman
Original Paper


In Africa, little is known about how the vascular anatomy of medicinal tree species is influenced by bark harvesting, and the ability of species to react against debarking needs to be better understood. This study aims to evaluate the temporal and spatial impact of bark harvesting on wood anatomy and to determine the extent to which a tree’s ability to close the wound after bark harvesting is affected by anatomical changes in the wood. We harvested bark from ten medicinal tree species located in an Isoberlinia doka woodland in Central Benin. Two years after debarking, the wound closure was measured and one tree per species was cut at the wound level to collect a stem disc. On the cross section of each disc, vessel features (area, density and specific conductive area) were measured in the radial direction (before and after wounding) and on three locations around the disc surface. We found that during early wound healing, all species produced vessels with a smaller area than in unaffected wood and this significantly decreased the specific conductive area in eight of the investigated species. However, after 2 years, only six trees had restored their specific conductive area. In addition, a significant positive correlation (r = 0.64, P < 0.005) confirmed the relationship between the specific conductive area and tissue production to close the wound and delineated the study group into two groups of trees. Therefore, we concluded that vessels appeared to be very good anatomical indicators of the tree’s reactions to debarking.


Bark harvesting Specific conductive area Re-growth dynamics Vessel features Wood anatomy 



This research was supported by the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR) project ZEIN 2003PR278. We are grateful to Bachirou Ignintonin and Roger Gantoli for their assistance with data collection in the field. We thank Dr. François Darchambeau for his precious and efficient statistical support.


  1. Adomou AC, Akoegninou A, Sinsin B, Defoucault B, Van der Maesen LGJ (2007) Biogeographical analysis of the vegetation in Benin. Acta Bot Gall 154:221–233Google Scholar
  2. Aloni R (1987) Differentiation of vascular tissues. Annu Rev Plant Physiol 38:179–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aloni R (1992) The control of vascular differentiation. Int J Plant Sci 153:S90–S92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aloni R, Zimmermann MH (1984) Length, width, and pattern of regenerative vessels along strips of vascular tissue. Bot Gaz 145:50–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baas P, Werker E, Fahn A (1983) Some ecological trends in vessel characters. Iawa Bull 4:141–159Google Scholar
  6. Benayoun J, Aloni R, Sachs T (1975) Regeneration around wounds and control of vascular differentiation. Ann Bot 39:447–454Google Scholar
  7. Bockx B (2004) Ethnobotanische studie van geneeskrachtige planten in Manigri en IgbèrèBenin. University of Ghent, GhentGoogle Scholar
  8. Christensen-Dalsgaard KK, Fournier M, Ennos AR, Barfod AS (2007) Changes in vessel anatomy in response to mechanical loading in six species of tropical trees. New Phytol 176:610–622CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Clerivet A, Deon V, Alami I, Lopez F, Geiger JP, Nicole M (2000) Tyloses and gels associated with cellulose accumulation in vessels are responses of plane tree seedlings (Platanus × acerifolia) to the vascular fungus Ceratocystis fimbriata f. sp. platani. Trees 15:25–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cruiziat P, Cochard H, Ameglio T (2002) Hydraulic architecture of trees: main concepts and results. Ann For Sci 59:723–752CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cunningham AB, Mbenkum FT (1993) Sustainability of harvesting Prunus africana bark in Cameroon: a medicinal plant in international trade. In: People and plant initiative working paper 2. UNESCO, Paris, FranceGoogle Scholar
  12. Delvaux C, Sinsin B, Darchambeau F, Van Damme P (2009) Recovery from bark harvesting of 12 medicinal tree species in Benin, West Africa. J Appl Ecol 46:703–712CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dujesiefken D, Liese W, Shortle W, Minocha R (2005) Response of beech and oaks to wounds made at different times of the year. Eur J For Res 124:113–117Google Scholar
  14. Evert RF (2006) Esau’s Plant anatomy: meristems, cells, and tissues of the plant body: their structure, function, and development. Wiley, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  15. Frankenstein C, Schmitt U (2006) Wound effects in the xylem of poplar: a UV microspectrophotometric study. Holzforschung 60:595–600CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Frankenstein C, Schmitt U, Waitkus C, Eckstein D (2005) Wound callus formation—a microscopic study on poplar (Populus tremula L. × Populus tremuloides Michx.). J Appl Bot Food Qual 79:44–51Google Scholar
  17. Frankenstein C, Schmitt U, Koch G (2006) Topochemical studies on modified lignin distribution in the xylem of poplar (Populus spp.) after wounding. Ann Bot 97:195–204CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Geldenhuys CJ (2004) Bark harvesting for traditional medicine: from illegal resource degradation to participatory management. Scand J For Res 19:103–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Geldenhuys CJ, Williams VL (2006) Impact of uncontrolled bark harvesting on the resource base. In: Paper presented at the workshop “Trees for health—forever. Implementing sustainable medicinal bark use in Southern Africa”, Willow Park, Johannesburg, South AfricaGoogle Scholar
  20. Geldenhuys CJ, Syampungani S, Meke GS, Vermeulen WJ (2007) Response of different species to bark harvesting for traditional medicine in Southern Africa. In: Bester JJ, Seydack AHW, Vorster T, Van der Merwe IJ, Dzivhani S (eds) Multiple use management of natural forests and woodlands: policy refinement and scientific progress. Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Pretoria, pp 55–62Google Scholar
  21. Kitin PB, Fujii T, Abe H, Funada R (2004) Anatomy of the vessel network within and between tree rings of Fraxinus lanuginosa (Oleaceae). Am J Bot 91:779–788CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lev-Yadun S (2002) The distance to which wound effects influence the structure of secondary xylem of decapitated Pinus pinea. J Plant Growth Regul 21:191–196CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Lev-Yadun S, Aloni R (1992) The role of wounding and partial girdling in differentiation of vascular Rays. Int J Plant Sci 153:348–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lev-Yadun S, Aloni R (1993) Effect of wounding on the relations between vascular rays and vessels in Melia azedarach L. New Phytol 124:339–344CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Li Z-L, Cui K-M (1988) Differentiation of secondary xylem after girdling. Iawa Bull 9:375–383Google Scholar
  26. Li Z-L, Cui K-M, Yu C-S, Chang X-L (1982) Effect of plastic sheet wrapping upon girdled Eucommia ulmoides. Sci Sin 25:368–375Google Scholar
  27. Lindorf H (1994) Eco-anatomical wood features of species from a very dry tropical forest. Iawa J 15:361–376Google Scholar
  28. Loepfe L, Martinez-Vilalta J, Pinol J, Mencuccini M (2007) The relevance of xylem network structure for plant hydraulic efficiency and safety. J Theor Biol 247:788–803CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Lovisolo C, Schubert A (1998) Effects of water stress on vessel size and xylem hydraulic conductivity in Vitis vinifera L. J Exp Bot 49:693–700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mwange KN, Hou HW, Cui KM (2003) Relationship between endogenous indole-3-acetic acid and abscisic acid changes and bark recovery in Eucommia ulmoides Oliv. after girdling. J Exp Bot 54:1899–1907CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Noel ARA (1970) The girdled tree. Bot Rev 36:162–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Novitskaya LL (1998) Regeneration of bark and formation of abnormal birch wood. Trees 13:74–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rademacher P, Bauch J, Shigo AL (1984) Characteristics of xylem formed after wounding in Acer, Betula, and Fagus. Iawa Bull 5:141–151Google Scholar
  34. Reyes-Santamaria I, Terrazas T, Barrientos-Priego AF, Trejo C (2002) Xylem conductivity and vulnerability in cultivars and races of avocado. Sci Hortic 92:97–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sass U, Eckstein D (1995) The variability of vessel size in beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and its ecophysiological interpretation. Trees 9:247–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schmitt U, Liese W (1990) Wound reaction of the parenchyma in Betula. Iawa Bull 11:413–420Google Scholar
  37. Schmitt U, Liese W (1993) Response of xylem parenchyma by suberization in some hardwoods after mechanical injury. Trees 8:23–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sellin A, Rohejarv A, Rahi M (2008) Distribution of vessel size, vessel density and xylem conducting efficiency within a crown of silver birch (Betula pendula). Trees 22:205–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Shigo AL (1984) Compartmentalization—a conceptual-framework for understanding how trees grow and defend themselves. Annu Rev Phytopathol 22:189–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Shigo AL (1986) A new tree biology: facts, photos and philosophies on trees and their problems and proper care. Shigo and Trees, Associates, New HampshireGoogle Scholar
  41. Stobbe H, Schmitt U, Eckstein D, Dujesiefken D (2002) Developmental stages and fine structure of surface callus formed after debarking of living lime trees (Tilia sp.). Ann Bot 89:773–782CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Sun Q, Rost TL, Matthews MA (2006) Pruning-induced tylose development in stems of current-year shoots of Vitis vinifera (Vitaceae). Am J Bot 93:1567–1576CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Syampungani S (2006) Bark wound responses: Results from bark harvesting experiments. In: Paper presented at the workshop “Trees for health—forever. Implementing sustainable medicinal bark use in Southern Africa”, Willow Park, Johannesburg, South AfricaGoogle Scholar
  44. Thomas V, Premakumari D, Reghu CP, Panikkar AON, Amma SCK (1995) Anatomical and histochemical aspects of bark regeneration in Hevea brasiliensis. Ann Bot 75:421–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tyree MT, Zimmermann MH (2002) Xylem structure and the ascent of sap. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  46. Verheyden A, De Ridder F, Schmitz N, Beeckman H, Koedam N (2005) High-resolution time series of vessel density in Kenyan mangrove trees reveal a link with climate. New Phytol 167:425–435CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Vermeulen WJ (2006) Sustainable bark harvesting for medicinal use: matching species to prescription. In: Paper presented at the workshop “Trees for health—forever. Implementing sustainable medicinal bark use in Southern Africa”, Willow Park, Johannesburg, South AfricaGoogle Scholar
  48. Vermeulen WJ, Geldenhuys CJ (2004) Experimental protocols and lessons learnt from strip harvesting of bark for medicinal use in the southern Cape forests. In: FRP-DFIP Project R8305 Report. Wild Resources Limited, UK (unpublished) Google Scholar
  49. Zwieniecki MA, Melcher PJ, Feild TS, Holbrook NM (2004) A potential role for xylem–phloem interactions in the hydraulic architecture of trees: effects of phloem girdling on xylem hydraulic conductance. Tree Physiol 24:911–917PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claire Delvaux
    • 1
    Email author
  • Brice Sinsin
    • 2
  • Patrick Van Damme
    • 1
  • Hans Beeckman
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratory of Tropical and Subtropical Agronomy and Ethnobotany, Department of Plant ProductionGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratoire d’Ecologie Appliquée, Faculté des Sciences AgronomiquesUniversité d’Abomey-CalaviCotonouBenin
  3. 3.Laboratory for Wood Biology and XylariumRoyal Museum for Central AfricaTervurenBelgium

Personalised recommendations