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Larissa C. Dória, Diego S. Podadera, Rivete S. Lima, Frederic Lens and Carmen R. Marcati

Edited by Marcelo R. Pace


Covariation amongst wood traits along the stem axis is important to maintain hydraulic integrity ensuring sufficient sap flow to the canopy. Here, we test how wood traits (co)vary along the trunk and whether two seasonally dry Brazilian habitats (cerrado and caatinga) influence this variation in two co-occurring species, Tocoyena formosa (Rubiaceae) and Tabebuia aurea (Bignoniaceae). The samples were collected at five heights along the main trunk of three individuals per species in both sites. We used light, scanning and transmission electron microscopy to observe the wood traits. Out of 13 wood traits, nine show relationships with sampling height: eight traits predict height in T. formosa and five in T. aurea. Contrastingly, only three traits show differences between sites and only for T. formosa. The intratrunk wood variation is reflected by the hydraulically weighted vessel diameter showing a curvilinear relationship, disagreeing with the prediction of a continuous vessel widening from tip to base. In both species, the largest vessels are linked to the thinnest intervessel pit membranes. Wood density increases basipetally for both species, being site-dependent and correlated with vessel traits in T. formosa, and site-independent and determined by fiber wall thickness in T. aurea. Furthermore, the functional role of rays was found to be different for each species, and may be related to the marked difference in ray composition. In conclusion, both species show a unique adaptation to deal with height-related constraints using species-specific co-variation amongst wood traits, while site does not contribute much to the wood variation.


Identification of Asian Timbers

Stephanie Helmling, Andrea Olbrich, Immo Heinz and Gerald Koch

Elisabeth A. Wheeler, Rashmi Srivastava, Steven R. Manchester and Pieter Baas

Associate-editor Michael Wiemann


Background and approach – The Deccan Intertrappean Beds of Central India contain a diverse assemblage of fossil plants, including petrified woods from 15 localities. These beds are dated at c. 67–64 Ma, i.e. latest Cretaceous–earliest Paleocene and span the K-Pg boundary, a significant time in angiosperm history. At this time, the Indian tectonic plate was halfway on its journey from Gondwana to its collision with Asia, and relatively close to the equator. We provide descriptions in IAWA Hardwood List codes for 47 species of Deccan fossil woods, based on our examination of thin sections of these woods, mostly holotypes that are housed at the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany, Lucknow, India. An appendix lists all validly published Deccan wood species of which we are aware, including 52 that we were not able to examine.

Main results – The Deccan fossil woods described herein include the oldest known occurrences of some orders, families or genera viz. Lamiales (Lamia-ceae), Achariaceae (Hydnocarpus-like wood), Anacardiaceae, Simaroubaceae (Ailanthus-like and Simarouba-like woods), subfamily Leeoideae (Vitaceae), subfamily Myrtoideae (Myrtaceae), subfamily Planchoideae (Lecythidaceae), tribe Castilleae (Moraceae), tribes Grewioideae and Sterculioideae (Malvaceae). These first fossil records are discussed with reference to other macrofossil and pollen records of the same or related clades. They complement recent work on the oldest known Olea and Connaraceae also documented by Deccan woods.

For the Deccan woods we examined, we could confirm the earlier taxonomic assignment at least down to order or family level for 29 taxa. Ordinal level affinities are ambiguous for eight of the taxa. In two cases, we revised the taxonomic assignment to other families; for another eight, the original assignment was found to be incorrect, but we are unable to suggest alternative affinities.

Evolutionary implications – Only 3% of all Deccan woods have scalariform perforations and the incidences of so-called specialized features in the Baileyan sense are high, so these woods have a remarkably “modern” aspect. This is anomalous in comparison with contemporaneous fossil woods from higher paleolatitudes, and seemingly they are more “derived” than the recent flora. In these respects, the Deccan woods constitute a unique assemblage. The low incidence of scalariform perforations suggests xeric conditions, while – in contrast – the low incidence of distinct growth ring boundaries suggests an aseasonal everwet climate. It is speculated that convergent xylem specialization, especially the selection for simple perforations, was enhanced by the climatic conditions found at low paleolatitudes with high temperatures as would characterize the Deccan Intertrappean Beds at the K-Pg boundary.

D.W. Woodcock, H.W. Meyer and Y. Prado

The fossil woods and leaves of the Fossil Forest Piedra Chamana represent a diverse assemblage of plants dating to 39 Ma (late Middle Eocene). The fossils are preserved in an ashfall and overlying lahar deposits near the small village of Sexi in the northern Peruvian Andes (central Cajamarca). The assemblage includes dicot wood types and leaf morphotypes, as well as a diversity of monocot material. The ~30 dicot wood types are referred to the families Acanthaceae, Anacardiaceae, Apocynaceae, Combretaceae, Cordiaceae, Dipterocarpaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Fabaceae, Lechythidaceae, Lythraceae, Malvaceae, Melastomataceae, Muntingiaceae, Rubiaceae, Rutaceae, and Sapindaceae. Described herein are descriptions of the first 17 wood types that have been assigned to the families Acanthaceae through Lythraceae; descriptions of the additional wood types will appear in a later paper. The paleovegetation can be characterized as lowland tropical forest with a dry aspect based on preliminary analysis of floristic affinities and wood anatomical characteristics of the fossils.

Barbara Ghislain and Bruno Clair

Tension wood, a tissue developed by angiosperm trees to actively recover their verticality, has long been defined by the presence of an unlignified cellulosic inner layer in the cell wall of fibres, called the G-layer. Although it was known that some species have no G-layer, the definition was appropriate since it enabled easy detection of tension wood zones using various staining techniques for either cellulose or lignin. For several years now, irrespective of its anatomical structure, tension wood has been defined by its high mechanical internal tensile stress. This definition enables screening of the diversity of cell walls in tension wood fibres. Recent results obtained in tropical species with tension wood with a delay in the lignification of the G-layer opened our eyes to the effective presence of large amounts of lignin in the G-layer of some species. This led us to review older literature mentioning the presence of lignin deposits in the G-layer and give them credit. Advances in the knowledge of tension wood fibres allow us to reconsider some previous classifications of the diversity in the organisation of the fibre walls of the tension wood.

Veronica Angyalossy, Marcelo R. Pace, Ray F. Evert, Carmen R. Marcati, Alexei A. Oskolski, Teresa Terrazas, Ekaterina Kotina, Frederic Lens, Solange C. Mazzoni-Viveiros, Guillermo Angeles, Silvia R. Machado, Alan Crivellaro, Karumanchi S. Rao, Leo Junikka, Nadezhda Nikolaeva and Pieter Baas