Stem Form Development of Forest Trees

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The biological concept of stem form, or stem taper, is discussed on the basis of a comprehensive review of the literature. It can be shown that tree growth and stem form development follow certain general laws or patterns of growth that are inherited. However, these basic patterns may be modified by many environmental factors and by silvicultural practices. Most variations in stem form may be traced to changes in the size and distribution of the live crown on the stem and to the length of the branch-free bole. These changes in crown development and stem form also influence the earlywood to latewood distribution and the wood density gradients within the stem. Four general stem form theories--nutritional, water conduction, mechanistic, and hormonal--have been proposed to account for stem form development. The arguments for and against these different theories are discussed.

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Plant Physiologist at the Lake States Forest Experiment Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. He is the head of a Pioneer Research Unit at Rhinelander, Wisconsin, set up to study the physiology of wood formation

Publication date: December 1, 1963

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