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The factors that determine sapwood width and volume in a tree are not known. This study asked whether sapwood width is related to a need for stem storage sites. Experiments were conducted on 12 34-year-old Douglas-fir [(Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco] trees with a 6-7 fold range of leaf areas and leaf area/sapwood volumes. Because of declining ray frequency but constant average ray area, ray volume declined for the first 6-10 growth rings, then remained constant, and did not vary with height (breast height vs. 10 nodes from the top). Fewer of the ray parenchyma cells had nuclei in inner than outer sapwood. Inner sapwood had ray parenchyma with smaller rounder nuclei than did outer sapwood, and there was no effect of height. There was a positive relationship between leaf area and the relative volume of ray in outer sapwood at breast height (r = 0.646, p = 0.02), supporting the hypothesis that Douglas-fir trees with larger leaf areas have higher ray volume than do trees with smaller leaf areas. However, correlations of leaf area I sapwood volume with leaf area at either height were not significant, nor were correlations of either leaf area or leaf area/sapwood volume with measures of ray vitality (nuclear frequency in outer sapwood, or the ratio of nuclear frequency in the middle I outer sapwood or in inner I outer sapwood). These latter correlations give no evidence that Douglas-fir trees determine their sapwood volume based on a need for quantity of vital xylem rays.


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