Leaf out time correlates with wood anatomy across large geographic scales and within local communities

Jessica A. Savage, Thomas Kiecker, Natalie McMann, Daniel Park, Matthew Rothendler, Kennedy Mosher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


There is a long-standing idea that the timing of leaf production in seasonally cold climates is linked to xylem anatomy, specifically vessel diameter because of the hydraulic requirements of expanding leaves. We tested for a relationship between the timing of leaf out and vessel diameter in 220 plants in three common gardens accounting for species’ phylogenetic relationships. We investigated how vessel diameter related to wood porosity, plant height and leaf length. We also used dye perfusion tests to determine whether plants relied on xylem produced during the previous growing season at the time of leaf out. In all three gardens, there was later leaf out in species with wider vessels. Ring-porous species had the widest vessels, exhibited latest leaf out and relied less on xylem made during the previous growing season than diffuse-porous species. Wood anatomy and leaf phenology did not exhibit a phylogenetic signal. The timing of leaf out is correlated with wood anatomy across species regardless of species’ geographic origin and phylogenetic relationships. This correlation could be a result of developmental and physiological links between leaves and wood or tied to a larger safety efficiency trade-off.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)953-964
Number of pages12
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by an NSF grant (IOS: 1656318) and a Sinnott Award (Arnold Arboretum) to JAS. The authors would like to thank Richard Primack for early input into the project and his assistance collecting phenology data at the Arnold Arboretum. The authors also would like to thank Arthur Andrews, Max Bonfig, Erin O’Connell, Frank Hoerner, Phang Chai Lee, Elise Miller, Britton Vandenheuvel, Kailyn Schmitt and Rishika Quick‐Singh for helping to section samples, analyze images and collect phenology data.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2022 New Phytologist Foundation


  • freezing-induced embolism
  • leaf out
  • leaf phenology
  • vascular phenology
  • vessel
  • wood porosity
  • xylem
  • Water
  • Xylem/physiology
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Leaves/physiology
  • Seasons
  • Wood/physiology

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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