Why do some redwoods twist?

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#1)  Why do some redwoods twist?

Postby Mark Collins » Sun Sep 02, 2012 8:26 pm

Image
"Twisting" Candy Cane Trees  (Humboldt Redwoods State Park)

A friend and I were hiking in Montgomery Woods today when she asked me if I knew why some of the redwoods in the grove appeared to be twisting, while others did not. I had no idea. Can anyone explain this phenomenon?

Image
"Straight" redwoods (Humboldt Redwoods State Park)
Last edited by Mark Collins on Sun Sep 02, 2012 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#2)  Re: Why do some redwoods twist?

Postby jamesrobertsmith » Sun Sep 02, 2012 8:31 pm

Could it be because of those Chubby Checker hits?

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#3)  Re: Why do some redwoods twist?

Postby edfrank » Sun Sep 02, 2012 9:03 pm

Mark,

We have had discussions on this subject before, but without any definitive resolution.  This thread:  https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en& ... y_BO1E3nQQ  on our old Google Group list includes most of the discussions.  With earlier remarks posted here:  http://www.nativetreesociety.org/forest ... _grain.htm

Essentially it seems that most trees have spiral grain to some extent.  It has to do with cell formation:
Wood Sci Technol (2007) 41:133–156,
The mechanism of spiral grain formation in trees
K. Schulgasser Æ A. Witztum

The abstract reads in part:

   Thus it is concluded that neither the slant of pseudotransverse divisions nor other ‘‘isolated events’’ (imperfect periclinal division, biased intrusive growth) are causative, but that they rather result from the fact that there is a radial gradient of the inclination angle (in the tangential plane) of fusiform cells, i.e. from the general tendency of a maturing cell to take on a preferred inclination with respect to the cell which immediately preceded it in its file. Growth stress patterns in trees have also been extensively investigated in the past half century. It is shown that the development of these stresses and the formation of spiral grain are just two aspects of the same process.


It seems that is some species the spiral is more pronounced than in others.  Also in a given population there seems to be a strong preference for either right hand or left hand spirals suggesting that their is a genetic factor involved.  There seems to be a strong preference for spiral grain under certain conditions or at certain locations, suggesting it is a factor that is selected for over those with vertical or straight grain.

Why would there be a selection for spiral grain?  What advantages might it have in some conditions?  One suggestion is that it has some value in water transport through the tree.  Another suggestion is that the spiral grain may allow these trees to better distribute wind shear by twisting some rather than bending.  There has been research on its effect on the characteristics of the lumber produced by these trees, but not so much on what advantage it may or may not provide the trees.

Ed Frank
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#4)  Re: Why do some redwoods twist?

Postby Steve Galehouse » Sun Sep 02, 2012 10:34 pm

Well, the short answer is they twist, 'cause they can't shout.
every plant is native somewhere

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#5)  Re: Why do some redwoods twist?

Postby Joe » Mon Sep 03, 2012 7:31 am

some red and sugar maples twist and some don't- apparently doing so has little effect on survival
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#6)  Re: Why do some redwoods twist?

Postby Mark Collins » Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:16 pm

Wow, thanks Ed. I thought for sure it would be a simple answer! I remember a buddy of mine had once mentioned the Coriolis effect explaining that the trees twisted one particular direction in the Northern Hemisphere and another direction in the Southern Hemisphere, but it sounds like that is definitely not the case. Very interesting...
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#7)  Re: Why do some redwoods twist?

Postby jamesrobertsmith » Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:45 pm

There's a poplar tree on one of my old routes that has a truly impressive and quite beautiful twist to it. I keep meaning to stop and take a photo of it to post here. It's also quite a large city poplar. All in all a very attractive tree.
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#8)  Re: Why do some redwoods twist?

Postby edfrank » Mon Sep 03, 2012 6:07 pm

Marc,

Definitely not Coriolis effect.

Ed
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#9)  Re: Why do some redwoods twist?

Postby Don » Mon Sep 03, 2012 10:14 pm

Ed's just waiting for me to chime in on my "spin" on what causes the 'twist'...: > }
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#10)  Re: Why do some redwoods twist?

Postby AndrewJoslin » Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:26 am

Here's a Fagus grandifolia with a nice counter-clockwise twist:

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