Variability and interrelations between wood density, water content, and related properties were analyzed by CT scanning of five species. Relative water content of lumens is proposed as the best complement to basic specific gravity for discrimination of species with respect to their functioning.
X-ray computed tomography (CT) is an efficient tool for analysis of wood properties related to density and water content all along a tree stem. Basic specific gravity, an inherent property of the wood material, is well known and widely used in wood sciences. The first aim of this study was to describe a method for mapping a set of wood properties within a tree stem. The second objective was to analyze the relations among these properties and to identify the one that offers the best information in addition to basic specific gravity for discrimination of species. Wood discs were collected at various heights along a tree stem. We used a method consisting of comparing the CT images of the discs in the green state and after oven drying. Finally, 10 variables were computed for 115 trees of five temperate species: green, oven-dry, and basic specific gravities; moisture content; relative water content; relative water content of lumens; and fractions of air, water, free water, and cell walls. Maps of wood properties summarizing the radial and vertical variations were obtained, allowing us to highlight species-specific patterns. The five species were discriminated best when plotted in the plane defined by basic specific gravity and relative water content of lumens. The proposed method is original and simple enough to process large samples. Because it correlated less with basic specific gravity than with moisture content, relative water content of lumens was selected for species characterization. This is the first study of such wood properties at this fine scale within a tree stem, simultaneously and for a substantial number of trees of five species including both hardwoods and softwoods.
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Longuetaud F, Mothe F, Fournier M, Dlouha J, Santenoise P, Deleuze C 2016. Within-stem maps of wood density and water content for characterization of species: a case study on three hardwood and two softwood species. Ann. For. Sci.: 1-14. 10.1007/s13595-016-0555-4.