Condensed Tannins in Southern Pines and Their Interactions with the Ecosystem

  • Allan E. Tiarks
  • J. Robert Bridges
  • Richard W. Hemingway
  • Eugene Shoulders


Condensed tannins extracted from the foliage of selected southern pine species were found to be predominately prodelphinidin polymers of 14 to 18 flavanoid units, whereas, tannins from phloem were mostly procyanidins of 8 to 11 units. These chemical characteristics indicate that the tannins from the different plant parts may have different biological activities in the ecosystem. Slash pine (Pinus elliottii Engelmann var. elliottii) foliage contained an average of 49 percent more tannin than loblolly (Pinus taeda L.) or longleaf (Pinus palustris Miller) pine foliage. Tannin concentration in the phloem did not seem to be related to site factors that control the rate of pine growth, but tannin concentration in the foliage increased by 30 percent as the site quality decreased from good to poor. Application of phosphorus fertilizer decreased the concentration of tannin in the foliage of loblolly pine from 110 to 85 g/kg. Concentrations of tannins in the foliage increased in the spring of the first year of the lifespan of needles, followed by a period of stability, and then another increase in concentration the second spring. In the months prior to senescence, tannins were lost from the foliage, either by leaching or by chemical transformations. The importance of tannins in nutrient cycling suggests that research on the fate of tannins released into the ecosystem needs to be intensified.


Litter Decomposition Condensed Tannin Site Quality Tannin Content Tannin Concentration 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allan E. Tiarks
    • 1
  • J. Robert Bridges
    • 1
  • Richard W. Hemingway
    • 1
  • Eugene Shoulders
    • 1
  1. 1.Southern Forest Experiment StationUSDA Forest ServicePinevilleUSA

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