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Growth in Trees (Classic Reprint)

Growth in Trees (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Growth in Trees

A tree may be considered as a tall cone of wood terminating in leafy expanses. The base of the cone is subdivided into myriads of rootlets, through the surfaces of which the soil-solutions enter, and the water, passing upward, is transpired from the leaves. The trunk of a tree is largely composed of dead cells, but inclosing it is a thin sheet of Spindle-form cambium cells1 in 2 to 10 or more layers, which in the growing season enlarge in thickness and divide lengthwise, those on the outside becoming transformed into cork and phloem and those on the inner into wood cells and vessels. Extending from the center of the trunk are thin sheets or rays of the medulla or pith of the young stem. The most recently formed cells of these elements are still living and in some trees the medullary cells remain alive for several years, so that the woody cylinder of the tree may comprise wood-cells or tracheids, vessels, and thin-wall ray cells, some of which are alive. External to the cambium are sieve cells, bast fibers, etc., and cork cells, inclosed in a bark which varies widely as to structure in different species.

The greatest amount of increase or change in volume is that which results from the multiplication by fission of the cambium cells, and their enlargement accompanied by the differentiations mentioned, all based upon hydration of cell-colloids.

When changes in the entire diameter are measured the variations may be due to the action of any one of these tracts of tissue. The colloids of the cell, including those of non-living walls or wood, are practically never in a stable condition, but follow an ever-varying environment in resultant adjustments, especially with respect to the water which they contain. All plants except submerged forms are always losing water at a varying rate from part of their surfaces, while water may be entering absorbing surfaces at a varying rate, and as a consequence of the inequality the volume may increase or decrease according to the balance between gain and loss.

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