Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

The effect of vessel element structure on element conductivity


A number of structural variables influence the conductivity of simple and scalariform perforation plates, and of vessel lumina. Using a previously developed computer model, the effects on conductivity of over 8,000 permutations of different lumen radii, perforation plate angles, perforation plate rim widths, scalariform slit pore heights, and scalariform bar thicknesses are considered. By taking advantage of basic patterns of similarity in the data, and by using scaling techniques, it has proved possible to calculate a series of factors which may be used to predict the conductivity of a vessel element or perforation plate of known dimensions. A number of previous workers have sought relationships between element structure and evolutionary or adaptive trends. Some important variables have been ignored in these studies in the past.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Baas P (1976) Some functional and adaptive aspects of vessel member morphology. In: Baas P, Bolton AJ, Catling DM (eds) Wood structure in biological and technological research. Leiden Botanical, Ser 3. Leiden University Press, pp 159–181

  2. Bolton AJ, Knowles SJ, Vianez BF (1987) The role of intervessel pits and vessel plugs in determining flow pathways through and between vessels in Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus L.). J Exp Bot 38: 1857–1865

  3. Carlquist S (1975) Ecological strategies of xylem evolution. University of California Press, Berkeley

  4. Carlquist S, Hoekman DA (1985) Ecological wood anatomy of the woody southern Californian flora. IAWA Bull 6: 319–347

  5. Ewers FW (1985) Xylem structure and water conduction in conifer trees, dicot trees, and lianas. IAWA Bull 6: 308–318

  6. Greenidge KNH (1952) An approach to the study of vessel length in hardwood species. Am J Bot 39: 570–574

  7. Meylan BA, Butterfield BG (1978) The structure of New Zealand woods. DSIR Bull (NZ) 222

  8. Oever L van den, Baas P, Zandee M (1981) Comparative wood anatomy of Symplocos and latitude and altitude of provenance. IAWA Bull 2: 3–24

  9. Robson DJ, Bolton AJ (1986) Models describing flow through vessel elements. Mokuzai Gakkaishi 32: 851–859

  10. Schmid R, Baas P (1984) The occurrence of scalariform perforation plates and helical vessel wall thickenings in wood of Myrtaceae. IAWA Bull 5: 197–216

  11. Stamm AJ (1966) Maximum pore diameters of film materials. For Prod J 16:59–63

  12. Stamm AJ, Arganbright DG (1970) Surface tension of the sap of several species of wood. Wood Fiber 2: 65–66

  13. Zimmermann MH (1983) Xylem structure and the ascent of sap. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to A. J. Bolton.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bolton, A.J., Robson, D.J. The effect of vessel element structure on element conductivity. Trees 2, 25–31 (1988).

Download citation

Key words

  • Vessel elements
  • Conductivity
  • Perforation plates