Plant and Soil

, Volume 239, Issue 2, pp 187–196 | Cite as

Toppling in juvenile pines: A comparison of the root system characteristics of direct-sown seedlings, and bare-root seedlings and cuttings

  • Alex J. Watson
  • Jeff D. Tombleson


Three-year radiata pine (Pinus radiata D. Don) direct-sown seedlings, bare-root seedlings and cuttings were excavated by hand from a planting trial in Taranaki, New Zealand. Eighteen trees were sampled, six of each plant type. Root system characteristics were compared by investigating differences in above- and below-ground biomass, root length, root size and root biomass distribution. No significant differences were found between plant types in total below-ground biomass, root:shoot ratio, tap root or sinker root biomass. Significant differences between plant types were found for total above-ground, branch, foliage, root bole and lateral root biomass. Additional significant differences were encountered for total root length, tap root and lateral root length. The study found the observed wind-firmness of direct-sown seedlings was unlikely to be because of the size or development of the tap root systems, the degree of symmetrical distribution of their lateral roots or higher root:shoot ratios, but could be associated with the greater proportion of total root biomass allocated to their near-stem lateral roots. It is proposed that the increase in biomass allocated to the near-stem portion of the root system, particularly on the leeward side of a tree, can be considered as an early indicator of emerging tree stability. A field-based method is suggested as a way of obtaining a measure of root anchorage. If plant types are to be developed for greater resistance to toppling, the results from this study would suggest that root stiffness, i.e. less root flexibility, should be a priority consideration in any selection or breeding programme.

juvenile trees radiata pine root allocation root biomass toppling wind stability 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aimers-Halliday J, Holden G, Klomp B and Menzies M 1999 Soften the blow-planted age cutting on topple-prone sites. What's New in Forest Research, No. 248. N. Z. For. Res. Inst. Ltd.Google Scholar
  2. Aitkens J F, Cambell I B and Wilde R H 1978 Soils of Stratford County, North Island, New Zealand. N. Z. Soil Bur., Dep. Sci. Indust. Res., Soil Survey Report No. 42.Google Scholar
  3. Blackwell P G, Rennolls K and Coutts M P 1990 A root anchorage model for shallowly rooted Sitka spruce. Forestry, 63, 73–91.Google Scholar
  4. Bohm W 1979 Methods of studying root systems. Ecological Studies 33. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.Google Scholar
  5. Burdett A N 1979 Juvenile instability in planted pines. Ir. For. 36, 36–47.Google Scholar
  6. Burdett A N, Coates H, Eremko R and Martin P A F 1986 Toppling in British Columbia's lodgepole pine plantations: Significance, cause and prevention. Forest Cronicle, Oct. 1986. 433-439.Google Scholar
  7. Cannell M G R and Willet S C 1976 Shoot growth phenology, dry matter distribution and root:shoot ratios of provenances of Poplus trichocarpa, Picea sitchensis and Pinus contorta growing in Scotland. Silvae Genet. 25(2), 49–59.Google Scholar
  8. Chavasse C G R 1969 Instability in young stands. Farm Forestry, 11(3), 70–77.Google Scholar
  9. Chavasse, C G R 1978 The root form and stability of young trees, with special reference to nursery and establishment practice. In Proc. Root Form of Planted Trees Symp., Victoria, B. C., Can. 196 May 16-19, 1978. Eds. E Van Eerden and J M Kinghorn. pp 54-64. Can. For. Serv., B. C. Min. For. Joint Rep. No. 8.Google Scholar
  10. Clark R W 1956 Wind damage in planted stock and natural regeneration of radiata pine at Mount Stromlo, A.C.T. Aust. For., 20, 37–39.Google Scholar
  11. Coutts M P 1983 Root architecture and tree stability. Plant Soil 71, 171–188.Google Scholar
  12. Coutts M P, Walker C and Burnand A C 1990 Effects of establishmentmethod on root form of lodgepole pine and Sitka spruce and on the production of adventitious roots. Forestry 63(2), 143–159.Google Scholar
  13. Coutts M P, Nielsen C Ch N and Nicoll B C 1999 The development of symmetry, rigidity and anchorage in the structural root system of conifers. Plant Soil 217, 1–15.Google Scholar
  14. Coxe I 1999 Nursery root treatment, root geometry, and young tree stability of Pinus radiata. M. App. Sci. Thesis, Soil, Plant and Ecological Science Division, Lincoln University, New Zealand. 123 p.Google Scholar
  15. Drew A P 1982 Shoot-root plasticity and episodic growth in red pine seedlings. Ann. Bot. 49, 347–357.Google Scholar
  16. Ennos A R and Pellerin S 2000 Plant anchorage. In Root Methods: A Handbook. Eds. A L Smit, A G Bengough, C Engels, M Van Noordwijk, S Pellerin and S C Van de Geijn. pp 545–565. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany.Google Scholar
  17. Evans P S and Klett J E 1984 The effects of dormant pruning treatments on leaf, shoot and root production from bare-root Malus sargentii. J. Arboric. 10, 298–302.Google Scholar
  18. Fawkner J J 1998 Direct seeding or direct setting of cuttings compared to nursery grown stock as a method of establishment of Pinus radiata. N. Z. Tree Grower, Nov. 1998. 22-25.Google Scholar
  19. Guatam M, Mead D J, Frampton C and Chang S X 1999 Coarse root system characteristics and toppling of clonal and seedling trees of Pinus radiata on Canterbury Plains. N. Z. J. For., 44 15–18.Google Scholar
  20. Gruschow G F 1959 Observations on root systems of planted Loblolly pine. J. For., 57 894–896.Google Scholar
  21. Holden D G, Klomp B K, Hong S O and Menzies M I 1995 Growth and predicted timber value of Pinus radiata cuttings and seedlings on a fertile farm site. N. Z. J. For. Sci. 25, 283–300.Google Scholar
  22. Hirvelä H and Hynynen J 1990 Lannoituksen vaikutus männifön kasvuun, latvavaurioihin ja tuulituhoalttiuteen lapissa. Effects of fertilization on the growth, top damage and susceptibility to windthrow of Scots pine stands in Lapland. Folia Fore. 764.Google Scholar
  23. Hsu J C 1996 Multiple Comparisons: Theory and Methods. Chapman and Hall, London. 277 p.Google Scholar
  24. Jacobs M R 1939 A study of effects of wind sway on trees. Commonw. For. Bur. Bull. No. 26. Commonwealth Forestry Bureau, Canberra, Australia.Google Scholar
  25. Lindström A and Rune G 1999 Root deformation in plantations of container-grown Scots pine trees: effects on root growth, tree stability and stem straightness. Plant Soil 217, 29–37.Google Scholar
  26. Lines R 1971 Provenances. Lodgepole pine. Studies of factors leading to basal bowing. In Report on Forest Research. pp. 39–40. H.M.S.O. London.Google Scholar
  27. Lines R 1980 Stability in Pinus contorta in relation to wind and snow. In Pinus contorta as an Exotic Species. Proc. IUFRO meeting (1980) on Pinus contorta provences (S2-02-06). pp. 209–219. Research Note No. 30. Swedish University of Agricultural Science, Dept. of Forest Genetics, Garpenburg.Google Scholar
  28. Mason E G 1985 Causes of juvenile instability of Pinus radiata in New Zealand. N.Z. J. For. Sci., 15, 263–280.Google Scholar
  29. Mason E G 1989 Toppling in New Zealand-Where do we go from here. In Wind damage in New Zealand Exotic Forests. Eds. A Somerville, S Wakelin and L Whitehouse. Min. Forestry, FRI Bull. No. 146. 23-25.Google Scholar
  30. Mason E G and Trewin A R D 1987 Toppling of radiata pine.What's New in Forest Research, No. 147. N. Z. For. Res. Inst., Min. of For.Google Scholar
  31. MathSoft 2000 S-PLUS Guide to Statistics, Volume 1, Data Analysis Products Division, MathSoft, Seattle, Washington, USA.Google Scholar
  32. Menzies M, Klomp B and Holden G 1991 Promising future for radiata pine cuttings. What's New in Forest Research, No. 212. N. Z. For. Res. Inst., Min. of For.Google Scholar
  33. Moore J and Sommerville A 1998 Assessing the risk of wind damage to plantation forests in New Zealand. N. Z. For. 43, 25–29.Google Scholar
  34. Nambiar E K S 1980 Root configuration and root regeneration in Pinus radiata seedlings. N. Z. J. For. Sci., 10, 249–263.Google Scholar
  35. Nicoll B C and Dunn A J 2000 The effects of wind speed and direction on radial growth of structural roots. In The Supporting Roots of Trees and Woody Plants: Form, Function and Physiology. Ed. A Stokes. pp 219–225. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  36. Nicoll B C and Ray D 1996 Adaptive growth of tree root systems in response to wind action and site conditions. Tree Physiol. 16, 891–898.Google Scholar
  37. Nicoll B C, Easton E P, Milner A D, Walker C and Coutts M P 1995 Wind stability factors in tree selection: Distribution of biomass within root systems of Sitka spruce clones. In Wind and Trees. Eds. M P Coutts and J Grace. pp 276–292. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  38. Nielsen C Ch N 1992 Will traditional conifer tree breeding for enhanced stem production reduce wind stability: Genetic variation in allocation of biomass to root classes and stem. Silvae Genet. 41(6), 307–319.Google Scholar
  39. Pfeifer A R 1982 Factors that contribute to basal sweep in lodgepole pine. Ir. For. 39(1), 7–16.Google Scholar
  40. Phillips C J and Watson A J 1994 Structural tree root research in New Zealand: A review Landcare Research Science Series No. 7. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln, NZ. 71 p.Google Scholar
  41. Ray D and Nicoll B C 1998 The effect of soil water-table depth on root-plate development and stability of Sitka spruce. Forestry 71, 169–182.Google Scholar
  42. Snowdon P and Waring H D 1985 Response to some genotypes of Pinus radiata to clover and fertilization. Aust. For. Res. 15, 123–134.Google Scholar
  43. Stokes A, Fitter A H and Coutts M P 1995 Response of young trees to wind: effects on root growth. In Wind and Trees. Eds. M P Coutts and J Grace. pp 264–275. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  44. Stokes A, Nicoll B C, Coutts M P and Fitter A H 1997 Responses of young Sitka spruce clones to mechanical perturbation and nutrition: effects on biomass allocation, root development and resistance to bending. Can. J. For. Res. 27, 1049–1057.Google Scholar
  45. Sundström E and Keane M 1999 Root architecture, early development and basal sweep in containerized and bare-rooted Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). Plant Soil 217, 65–78.Google Scholar
  46. Walker J C F 1993 Primary Wood Processing: Principles and Practice. Chapman and Hall, London. 595 p.Google Scholar
  47. Wilson B F 1975 Distribution of secondary thickening in tree root systems. In The Development and Function of Roots. Eds. J G Torrey and D T Clarkson. pp 197–219 Academic Press, New York, USA.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alex J. Watson
    • 1
  • Jeff D. Tombleson
    • 2
  1. 1.Landcare ResearchLincoln, CanterburyNew Zealand
  2. 2.Forest Research, Private Bag 3020RotoruaNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations