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Juvenile Versus Mature Wood: A New Concept, Orthogonal to Corewood Versus Outerwood, with Special Reference to Pinus radiata and P. taeda

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Wood properties vary within stems of trees according to genera, species, and individuals. Such variation is largely systematic and is very pronounced in many pines, notably Pinus radiata and P. taeda. While gradual transitions predominate, there are practical needs for categorizing wood, in cutting stems to log lengths, followed by sorting and segregation for processing. Even radial segregation of wood is often possible. In such pines, there are strong, widely recognized progressions, in various wood properties, from pith to bark. Based largely on variation in density, the first few rings from the pith are widely termed juvenile wood, which intergrades outward into wood termed mature wood. Alternative terminology used for this radial progression has been from corewood into outerwood. Critical examination shows the juvenile versus mature wood terminology to be inadequate, on two counts: (1) various other wood properties, some of which can be important, show substantial axial variation at equal ring number from the pith; (2) this categorization based solely on radial variation does not fit the well-established botanical concept of maturation. However, this axial variation closely parallels the vertical variation in shoot morphology and the onset of reproduction that reflect maturation. This argues for a two-dimensional characterization of wood properties: juvenility versus maturity for the progression up the stem, and corewood versus outerwood for the radial progression from the pith to bark. FOR. SCI. 50(4):399–415.

Keywords: Maturation; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; microfibril angle; natural resource management; natural resources; spiral grain; tracheid length; wood density

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Science Fellow New Zealand Forest Research Institute Private Bag 3020 Rotorua New Zealand, Fax: 64 7348 0952, Email: 2: Science Fellow and Principal Scientist New Zealand Forest Research Institute Private Bag 3020 Rotorua New Zealand, Email: 3: Professor School of Forestry University of Canterbury Private Bag 4800 Christchurch New Zealand, Email: 4: Retired (ex Weyerhaeuser Company, Federal Way, WA 98063) 17403 SE 244th Place Kent WA 98042, Email: 5: Senior Principal Scientist CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products Private Bag 10 Clayton South Victoria Australia 3619, Email: 6: Senior Scientist and Group Leader New Zealand Forest Research Institute Private Bag 3020 Rotorua New Zealand, Email:

Publication date: August 1, 2004

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