• The distribution of intervascular pit membranes with a torus was investigated in juvenile wood samples of 19 species of Ulmus and seven related genera. • A staining solution of safranin and alcian blue (35 : 65) was recommended to distinguish torus-bearing pit membranes using light microscopy. • Intervascular pit membranes connecting relatively wide vessel elements resembled those of most angiosperms, as they were of uniform thickness. By contrast, bordered pit pairs with round to oval pit apertures and indistinct pit canals that connected narrow (incomplete) vessel elements or vascular tracheids with distinct helical thickenings were frequently characterized by a torus in ring-porous wood samples of Ulmus and Zelkova. Tori were lacking in diffuse-porous species of Ampelocera, Aphananthe, Gironniera, Holoptelea, Phyllostylon, Trema and Ulmus. • Our observations suggest that tori are more common in cold temperate climates than in warm (sub)tropical environments. This may indicate that narrow tracheary elements with torus-bearing pit membranes provide an auxiliary conducting system which is of low conductivity, but offers greater resistance to freezing-induced cavitation.

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New Phytologist
Staff publications

Jansen, S., Choat, B., Vinckier, S., Lens, F., Schols, P., & Smets, E. (2004). Intervascular pit membranes with a torus in the wood of Ulmus (Ulmaceae) and related genera. New Phytologist, 163, 51–59.