Variation of Brown Rot Decay in Eastern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis L.)

Besma Bouslimi, Ahmed Koubaa, Yves Bergeron


Variations in brown rot decay and proportions of heartwood and sapwood were investigated in eastern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis L.). This experiment tested the hypothesis that the incidence of brown rot decay depends on the site, tree age, tree height, and heartwood/ sapwood ratio. Forty-five trees were sampled and felled from three mature stands in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, Quebec, Canada. From each tree, disks were systematically sampled along the entire stem, and the heartwood, sapwood, and decay proportions and volumes were determined for each disk. Scanning electron microscopy showed that growth of fungi causing brown rot decay was limited and slower in latewood than in earlywood due to the narrow cell lumen, thick wall, and limited number of bordered pits in latewood tracheids. Site, tree height, and tree age had significant effects on the proportions of sapwood, heartwood, and decay. Heartwood and brown rot decay proportions decreased from the base of the tree upward, while the sapwood proportion increased. There was more decay in older trees and in those growing on moist versus dry sites; however, decay was not serious in trees younger than 80 years. In addition, brown rot decay proportion correlated strongly and positively with heartwood proportion and tree volume, but negatively with sapwood proportion.


Brown rot decay; Wood structure; Site effect; Within-tree variation; Heartwood; Sapwood

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