Interaction between sapwood and foliage area in alpine ash (Eucalyptus delegatensis) trees of different heights

Karel Mokany, Ross E. McMurtrie*, Brian J. Atwell, Heather Keith

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    33 Citations (Scopus)


    In native stands of Eucalyptus delegatensis R. T. Baker, sapwood area (As) to foliage area (Af) ratios (As:A f) decreased as tree height increased, contradicting the common interpretation of the Pipe Model Theory as well as the generally observed trend of increasing As:Af ratios with tree height. To clarify this relationship, we estimated sapwood hydraulic conductivity theoretically based on measurements of sapwood vessel diameters and Poiseuille's law for fluid flow through pipes. Despite the observed decrease in As:A f ratios with tree height, leaf specific conductivity increased with total tree height, largely as a result of an increase in the specific conductivity of sapwood. This observation supports the proposition that the stem's ability to supply foliage with water must increase as trees grow taller, to compensate for the increased hydraulic path length. The results presented here highlight the importance of measuring sapwood hydraulic conductivity in analyses of sapwood-foliage interactions, and suggest that measurements of sapwood hydraulic conductivity may help to resolve conflicting observations of how As:Af ratios change as trees grow taller.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)949-957
    Number of pages9
    JournalTree physiology
    Issue number14
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003


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