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Data for pith width, leaf size, and twig thickness of trees and shrubs

Cite this dataset

Larios Mendieta, Kalindhi; Burleigh, Gordon; Putz, Francis (2021). Data for pith width, leaf size, and twig thickness of trees and shrubs [Dataset]. Dryad.


Premise of the study: As an extension of E. J. H. Corner’s Rule that twig diameter increases with leaf size, we hypothesized that pith width also increases with leaf size. The benefit to the plant from the proposed relationship is that pith is a low-cost tissue that reduces the metabolic cost of large diameter twig production. 

Methods: Leaf sizes and cross-sectional areas of bark, xylem, and pith of 81 species of trees and shrubs growing in Gainesville, Florida were measured and compared with standardized major axis regressions of pairwise species trait values and phylogenetically independent contrasts.

Key results: Pith area increases with leaf size with or without accounting for phylogenetic relationships. In agreement with Corner’s rule, overall twig diameter as well as bark and wood thickness also increase with leaf size. Thicker twigs showed more variation in relative pith, wood, and bark  cross-sectional areas compared to thinner twigs.

Conclusions:  Investments in pith, a tissue of low density found in the centers of twigs, provides a low cost way to increase twig circumference and thereby space for attachment of large leaves while increasing the overall second moment of area of twigs (I), which increases their ability to biomechanically support large leaves.