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Compartmentalization: A Conceptual Framework for Understanding how Trees Grow and Defend Themselves

The purpose of this chapter is to describe a conceptual framework for understanding how trees grow and how they and other perennial plants defend themselves. The concept of compartmentalization has developed over many years, a synthesis of ideas from a number of investigators. It is founded on observations of trees injured in the field by wind, snow, ice, fire, animals, and insects, as well as during pruning, coppicing, sugaring, and other forest and orchard management practices. It is based on experimental studies of natural and artificial wounds with and without controlled inoculations with selected pathogenic and saprophytic microorganisms.

Tapholes in Sugar Maples: What Happens in the Tree

Maple syrup production starts by drilling a taphole in the tree. This process injures the wood, which may become discolored or decayed as a result. If trees are to be tapped, every effort must be made to minimize injury while obtaining the desired amount of sap. Information about tapholes is given here for the benefit of the producer. Some important points discussed are: how trees compartmentalize discolored and decayed wood associated with tapholes, how some tapping procedures lead to cambial dieback around the hole, the problem of overtapping related to increased use of mechanical tappers, and new information on the use of para formaldehyde pills, which can lead to more decay in trees.