Current issue: 53(3)
Under compilation: 53(4)
Birches’ (Betula sp.) ability to grow sprouts is low. The stump grows root collar and stump shoots, but the stump shoots are not proper stump shoots that will grow from the space between wood and bark. The buds are situated very low in the base, even under the ground. In this study, no actual root shoots could be found. Also the bushy alpine birches seem to be formed from stump and root collar shoots.
In Southern Finland silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) is more common than downy birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh.) in dry upland forest sites, while downy birch is common in fresh mineral soil forests and peatlands. In Northern Finland downy birch is the dominant birch species. Of the two species downy birch has markedly better capacity to form stump and root collar shoots both in Northern and Southern Finland. In general, birches grow sprouts much more strongly in Northern Finland.
Growth of the shoots is fastest during the first year after the felling of the parent tree and slows down gradually. The stump shoots may get separated from the stump when the stump decays, and the decay may also spread to the shoots. It is common that the shoots have no own roots, and die along with the stump. The shoots may have own root system or use roots of the parent tree that have stayed alive, in the latter case decay spreads almost always from the stump to the shoot. Whether the tree was felled with axe or saw had no effect on sprouting, probably because the sprouting buds are situated in the base of the tree. The larger stumps had usually fewer sprouts than smaller stumps. The fertility of the site seemed to have little effect on sprouting, but more moist sites formed more sprouts.
Forest regeneration using sprouts may be possible in peatlands for firewood production. on mineral soil sites birch does not suit for coppicing. The proportion of trees originating from sprouts decreases strongly by the time. Consequently, in Southern Finland sprouts have little effect on regeneration of birch. In Northern Finland sprouting is the most important way of regeneration.
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