Durability of larch (Larix spp.) wood against brown-rot fungi

IRG/WP 97-10228

H Viitanen, L Paajanen, P Saranpää, P Viitaniemi

Durability of the heartwood of Larix decidua, L. sibirica, L. gmelinii, L. gmelinii var japonica, L. gmelinii var olgensis and L. sibirica x decidua against brown rot fungi Coniophora puteana, Poria placenta and Gloeophyllum trabeum was tested according to EN 113 test method. Parallel samples were used to study the amount and composition of wood extractives. The sample trees originated from the research forest of Punkaharju Research Station. The average age of the trees was 60 years. In addition, from L. sibirica also trees at 25 and 102 years were used. Results show that the durability of larch is depending on species, age of the tree, the wood part (inner or outer heartwood) and fungus. The average durability of larch heartwood was equal to class 3 or 4 (moderately or slightly durable, according to the standard EN350:2) and comparable with the durability of pine heartwood (Pinus sylvestris L). However, the durability of L. gmelinii var olgensis and L. sibirica (102 years old) was on the higher level than that of the other studied species but the durability varied even within the same board. Also the durability of wood from L. sibirica grown in the Russian side (Siberia) was studied. It was equal to that of the trees grown in Finland. The average amount of resin acids of larch heartwood was only about 0.1% (dry weight). In contrast, the heartwood of scots pine may contain up to 4.0% of resin acids. Resin acids are found to inhibit the linear growth of certain fungi. Interestingly, the largest amounts of resin acids (0.3%) were found in the heartwood of L. gmelinii which also showed high durability. The concentration of water soluble extracts (mainly arabinogalactan) of larch heartwood was quite large, varying between 3.2 - 20.5%. The concentration of water soluble extracts in the heartwood increased along the age of the trees. Lowest level of extractives were found in Larix decidua which was also the least decay resistant species. The durability of wood in different targets and the role of different chemical compounds of larch heartwood on decay resistance needs to be clarified.


Keywords: BROWN ROT DECAY; LARCH; LARIX SPP.; NATURAL DURABILITY; RESIN ACIDS; WATER SOLUBLE EXTRACTS

Conference: 97-05-25/30 Whistler, British Columbia, Canada


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