We assessed tree frost tolerance using electrolyte leakage and a method based on irreversible diameter change of branches. It was shown that irreversible diameter change correlates with electrolyte leakage and USDA hardiness rating and is a good indicator of frost tolerance.
The number of potential tree species for urban green planning is low in northern latitudes where cold tolerance is a critical factor. High cost of urban tree establishment calls for reliable and preferably non-destructive methods for determining their cold tolerance. We studied the cellular damage occurring during freezing and thawing in branches of seven broadleaved tree species using electrolyte leakage and a method based on branch diameter changes. Cellular damage in branches was studied during the cold-hardy stage in winter and the dehardening stage in early spring in laboratory conditions using both monitoring of frost-induced diameter changes and the common electrolyte leakage method during temperature decrease to −25 °C. Frost-induced irreversible diameter shrinkage correlated positively with electrolyte leakage. Out of the seven studied species, Quercus palustris and Crataegus monogyna had the highest frost tolerance during the dehardening stage in early spring, whereas Pterocarya fraxinifolia was the least frost tolerant. Irreversible shrinkage of branch diameter due to freezing stress is a good and non-destructive method to indicate frost tolerance. It also correlates well with the USDA plant hardiness rating that is based on the minimum temperature range in which the studied species prevail in the USA.
Lintunen A, Paljakka T, Riikonen A, Lindén L, Lindfors L, Nikinmaa E, Hölttä T 2015. Irreversible diameter change of wood segments correlates with other methods for estimating frost tolerance of living cells in freeze-thaw experiment: a case study with seven urban tree species in Helsinki. Ann. For. Sci.: 1-10. 10.1007/s13595-015-0516-3.
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