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Characterization of Cork Oak (Quercus Suber) Wood Anatomy

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The cork oak (Quercus suber L.) is important for ecological and socioeconomic sustainability and nature conservation in the Mediterranean area. Anatomical and structural features of cork oak wood were characterized at two sites in Portugal, including never-debarked trees and trees under cork production. Cork oak wood showed semi-ring porosity, solitary vessels with simple perforation plates, and large rays. Vessels were arranged in a diagonal to radial pattern, larger and more abundant in earlywood, and gradually decreasing in intermediate and latewood. In trees under cork production vessel distribution and frequency were altered, with more frequent and smaller pores, and a less distinct porosity pattern. Vessel diameter, element length and frequency were 133 ± 49 μm, 433 ± 103 μm and 2.9 ± 0.5 vessels/mm2 for never-debarked trees and 139 ± 50 μm, 341 ± 100 μm and 5.1 ± 1.5 vessels/mm2 for debarked trees. Multiseriate ray width ranged 0.15–1.04 mm, and uniseriate ray height 9.1–791.3 μm. Fibres had a mean length of 1.15 ± 0.20 mm. Vasicentric tracheids were frequent. Tyloses and crystals were commonly present. The anatomical features of cork oak wood favour water conduction and mechanisms of drought adaptation to the Mediterranean climate. The wood can also adapt to cork removal.


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