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The Communal Root System of Red Pine: Growth of Girdled Trees

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Abstract:

Red pine survive in large numbers for more than 18 years after complete girdling, their roots supported through grafts to roots of neighboring trees. Girdled trees may compose as much as ΒΌ to 1/3 of the stand basal area 5 to 10 years after treatment of dense plantations, thus indicating the frequency and effectiveness of the phloem interconnections. In one stand examined, each girdled tree was grafted to an average of three intact trees, at distances of 1.8 to 4.6 m from the stem. After the first two years, death of girdled trees in unthinned stands is due largely to breakage at the girdle rather than physiological causes. Stem analyses revealed increased ring width on the lower stem above the girdle, especially in the second year after girdling. However, growth in the upper crown decreased somewhat in the first year and markedly in the second. Thereafter thickness of the growth sheath throughout the girdled stems soon stabilized at a level about 2/3 of that intact trees. Growth of intact trees was not affected by the additional drain upon their roots, within the rather wide limits of detection. These results fail to sustain the concept of a communal root system that allows unrestricted sharing of photosynthate or other phloem-transported products. Forest Sci. 20:294-305.

Keywords: Pinus resinosa; Root grafts

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Charles Lathrop Pack Professor of Forest Soils, Dept. Agronomy, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14850

Publication date: December 1, 1974

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