Within- and between-tree variation of wood density components in Pinus nigra at six sites in Portugal

  • Alexandra Dias
  • Maria J. Gaspar
  • Ana Carvalho
  • Jani Pires
  • José Lima-Brito
  • Maria E. Silva
  • José L. LouzadaEmail author
Research Paper


Key message

In Europe, P. nigra wood presents a density pattern of longitudinal variation with an increase from east to west. However, no latitudinal tendencies were detected. Compared to other Portuguese resinous species, P. nigra revealed higher density, identical radial growth and intra-ring heterogeneity, which presents advantages for industry purposes. The environmental factors (Sites effect) manifest more strongly in the latewood components while the Trees/Sites effect is more strongly expressed in the earlywood components.


Although P. nigra Arnold is one of the most important conifers in Europe, little is known about the wood’s characteristics in the southwest European region.


Our aims are to outline a first approach to study the growth and wood quality in P. nigra in Portugal comparing to other European natural stands and other resinous species.


Inter- and intra-wood density variation of P. nigra from six Portuguese sites was studied using microdensitometry. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed in three subsets: 50 common rings, core (juvenile wood) and peripheral analysis (mature wood).


The average ring density was 0.588 g cm−3, with maximum values in the north and low altitudes. Regarding growth traits, no latitudinal and altitudinal tendencies were detected. Compared to the main timber species in Portugal (P. pinaster Aiton), P. nigra showed similar radial growth, higher density but lower intra-ring density homogeneity. The Sites effect mainly influenced latewood density components, while the Trees/Sites effect primarily influenced earlywood components. The Rings effect was found to be relatively low, with a density decrease in the tree’s first years followed by an increase in the periphery. Growth traits showed a reduction from pith to bark.


Considering the quality (density) and growth features of the Black pine, this species could be useful for the reforestation of mountainous Southern Europe areas that are not favourable for other species.


Black pine Wood variation Microdensitometry Juvenile wood Mature wood 



This work was funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, FCT) under the project UID/AGR/04033/2013 and POCI-01-0145-FEDER-006958 and co-financed by the Social European Fund (FSE) under the POPH-QREN (grant number SFRH/BD/91781/2012 to A. D. and SFRH/BPD/68932/2010 to A. C.).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the Research and Technology of Agro-Environmental and Biological Sciences (CITAB)University of Tras-os-Montes and Alto DouroVila RealPortugal
  2. 2.BioISI–Biosystems and Integrative Sciences InstituteFaculty of Sciences University of LisboaLisbonPortugal
  3. 3.Department of Genetics and Biotechnology (DGB)University of Tras-os-Montes and Alto DouroVila RealPortugal
  4. 4.Centre of Forestry Studies (CEF), Instituto Superior de AgronomiaUniversidade Técnica de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  5. 5.Department of Forestry Sciences and Landscape (CIFAP)University of Tras-os-Montes and Alto DouroVila RealPortugal

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