Trunk and main-branch development in Nothofagus pumilio (Nothofagaceae): a retrospective analysis of tree growth based on the size and structure of its annual shoots.
PASSO ALFREDO, PUNTIERI JAVIER Y BARTHÉLÉMY DANIEL
CANADIAN JOURNAL OF BOTANY
National Research Counsil
Lugar: Ontario; Año: 2002 vol. 80 p. 763 - 772
The development of the trunk and main branches of approximately 26-year-old Nothofagus pumilio (Poepp. et Endl.) Krasser trees was studied. The length and number of leaves of annual shoots were recorded for 56 trees from a natural population. Morphological and macroanatomical features allowed the identification of shoot apex deaths and the axillary positions from which branches and relay shoots derived. The trees had a mean height of approximately 6 m and a mean basal diameter of approximately 8 cm. The length of trunk shoots increased from the first years to the intermediate years of tree growth and decreased for the last 6 years of tree growth. The maximum length and number of leaves of trunk shoots were registered for the years around 1985, when tree age was about 17 years. The likelihood of apex death for trunk shoots was minimum for the period of maximum trunk shoot size. Despite thefact that the architectural features of the sampled trees corresponded to those of young, vigorously growing trees, they seemed to have reached a stage of low annual height growth. A sharp decrease in trunk shoot size occurred in 1992, a year in which rainfall during the growing season reached the minimum for the lifetime of the sampled trees. The size of shoots developed after 1992 was, on average, lower than that of shoots developed before 1992. Stressful conditions in this year may relate to meristem ageing and thus to the size of shoots formed in the following years. Main branches started their development with shoots similar to those of the trunk but were clearly differentiated from the trunk 5 years later. The differentiation between main branch and trunk shoots involved not only a lower shoot size but also a higher number of leaves per shoot length unit in main branch than in trunk shoots.