New Biological Rhythm in Cambia of Trees – “Music of Trees” Revisited 50 Years After the Discovery of Cambial Morphogenetic Waves

Beata Zagórska-Marek


Among periodic patterns having origin in cambium and recorded in figured wood, the tangential waviness has been the first to be discovered and thoroughly characterized. Yet another pattern, manifested in the rippled surface of some tree trunks, has remained basically undescribed. This work is the first attempt to provide information on its morphology, dynamics, and relation to the tangential waviness. Developmental analysis of the annual ring widths on the transverse surface of the stem showed that crests and throughs forming a ripple pattern result from a highly controlled proliferation of cambial cells. These cells’ activity regularly oscillates in time and space between an increased and a reduced state at approximately 10-year intervals, independently of the environmental cues considered in dendrochronological studies. This rhythm leads to the development of radial waviness and is a major factor affecting wood ring width. Radial waviness is dynamic; it propagates along the stem axis and is often synchronized with tangential waviness in a nonrandom manner. Possible causes of radial pattern emergence based on auxin waves, the role of other phytohormones, and recent discoveries of MADS-box genes that regulate cambial cell proliferation are discussed.


figured wood; ripple pattern; superposition of waves; auxin; cell proliferation; dendrochronology; plant development

Full Text:



Baba, K., Karlberg, A., Schmidt, J., Schrader, J., Hvidsten, T. R., Bako, L., & Bhalerao, R. P. (2011). Activity–dormancy transition in the cambial meristem involves stage-specific modulation of auxin response in hybrid aspen. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(8), 3418–3423.

Barra-Jiménez, A., & Ragni, L. (2017). Secondary development in the stem: When Arabidopsis and trees are closer than it seems. Current Opinion in Plant Biology, 35, 145–151.

Chan, J., Mansfield, C., Clouet, F., Dorussen, D., & Coen, E. (2020). Intrinsic cell polarity coupled to growth axis formation in tobacco BY-2 cells. Current Biology, 30(24), 4999–5006.e3.

Détienne, P. (1979). Contrefil à rythme annuel dans les Faro, Daniellia sp. pl. [Annual rhythm of opposite wood grain orientation in Faro, Daniellia sp. pl.]. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques, 183, 67–71.

Douglass, A. E. (1919). Climatic cycles and tree-growth: A study of the annual rings of trees in relation to climate and solar activity. Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Fan, J., Zhang, H., Rahman, T., Stanton, D. N., & Wan, L. Q. (2019). Cell organelle-based analysis of cell chirality. Communicative & Integrative Biology, 12(1), 78–81.

Fritts, H. C. (1966). Growth-rings of trees: Their correlation with climate: Patterns of ring widths in trees in semiarid sites depend on climate-controlled physiological factors. Science, 154(3752), 973–979.

Fujita, M., & Zagorska-Marek, B. M. (2005). A novel biological rhythm of cell inclination change in the cambium of Cinnamomum camphora. In XVII International Botanical Congress. 100 years after the II IBC in Vienna 1905. Abstracts (p. 302). International Union of Biological Sciences; International Association of Botanical and Mycological Sciences; Society for the Advancement of Plant Sciences.

Hejnowicz, Z. (1971). Upward movement of the domain pattern in the cambium producing wavy grain in Picea excelsa. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae, 40(3), 499–512.

Hejnowicz, Z. (1973). Morphogenetic waves in cambia of trees. Plant Science Letters, 1(9), 359–366.

Hejnowicz, Z. (1974). Pulsation of domain length as support for the hypothesis of morphogenetic waves in the cambium. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae, 43(2), 261–271.

Hejnowicz, Z., & Romberger, J. (1973). Migrating cambial domains and the origin of wavy grain in xylem of broadleaved trees. American Journal of Botany, 60, 209–222.

Hejnowicz, Z., & Zagórska-Marek, B. (1974). Mechanism of changes in grain inclination in wood produced by storeyed cambium. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae, 43(3), 381–398.

Inaki, M., Liu, J., & Matsuno, K. (2016). Cell chirality: Its origin and roles in left–right asymmetric development. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences, 371, Article 20150403.

Inaki, M., Sasamura, T., & Matsuno, K. (2018). Cell chirality drives left–right asymmetric morphogenesis. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, 6, Article 34.

Little, C. H. A., & Bonga, J. M. (1974). Rest in the cambium of Abies balsamea. Canadian Journal of Botany, 52(7), 1723–1730.

Nieminen, K., Blomster, T., Helariutta, Y., & Mähönen, A. P. (2015). Vascular cambium development. The Arabidopsis Book, 13, Article e0177.

Oribe, Y., & Funada, R. (2017). Locally heated dormant cambium can re-initiate cell production independently of new shoot growth in deciduous conifers (Larix kaempferi). Dendrochronologia, 46, 14–23.

The Physics Classroom. (2022). Retrieved May 16, 2022, from

Trouet, V. (2020). Tree story: The history of the world written in rings. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Walsh, T. (2022). Wave basics and types of waves. oPhysics: Interactive Physics Simulations. Retrieved February 20, 2022, from

Wan, L. Q., Chin, A. S., Worley, K. E., & Ray, P. (2016). Cell chirality: Emergence of asymmetry from cell culture. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences, 371(1710), Article 20150413.

Wan, L. Q., Ronaldson, K., Park, M., Taylor, G., Zhang, Y., Gimble, J. M., & Vunjak-Novakovic, G. (2011). Micropatterned mammalian cells exhibit phenotype-specific left–right asymmetry. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108, 12295–12300.

Wang, D., Chen, Y., Li, W., Li, Q., Lu, M., Zhou, G., & Chai, G. (2021). Vascular cambium: The source of wood formation. Frontiers in Plant Science, 12, Article 700928.

Wodzicki, T. J., Abe, H., Wodzicki, A. B., Pharis, R. P., & Cohen, J. D. (1987). Investigations on the nature of the auxin-wave in the cambial region of pine stems. Plant Physiology, 84(1), 135–143.

Wodzicki, T. J., & Wodzicki, A. B. (1981). Modulation of the oscillatory system involved in polar transport of auxin by other phytohormones. Physiologia Plantarum, 53, 176–180.

Wodzicki, T. J., Wodzicki, A. B., & Brown, C. L. (1988). Oscillation of stem polarity expression in transport of natural auxin of pine cambium. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae, 57, 165–176.

Wodzicki, T. J., Wodzicki, A. B., & Zajączkowski, S. (1979). Hormonal modulation of the oscillatory system involved in polar auxin transport. Physiologia Plantarum, 46, 97–100.

Zagórska-Marek, B. (1995). Morphogenetic waves in cambium and figured wood formation. In M. Iqbal (Ed.), Encyclopedia of plant anatomy: The cambial derivatives (pp. 69–92). Gebrüder Borntraeger.

Zagórska-Marek, B. (2021). Mirror symmetry of life. In T. Akitsu (Ed.), Current topics in chirality: From chemistry to biology. IntechOpen.

Zagórska-Marek, B., Sokołowska, K., & Turzańska, M. (2018). Chiral events in developing gametophores of Physcomitrella patens and other moss species are driven by an unknown, universal direction-sensing mechanism. American Journal of Botany, 105(12), 1986–1994.

Zajączkowski, S., Wodzicki, T. J., & Romberger, J. A. (1984). Auxin waves and plant morphogenesis. In T. K. Scott (Ed.), Hormonal regulation of development II (pp. 244–262). Springer.

Zheng, S., He, J., Lin, Z., Zhu, Y., Sun, J., & Li, L. (2021). Two MADS-box genes regulate vascular cambium activity and secondary growth by modulating auxin homeostasis in Populus. Plant Communications, 2(5), Article 100134.


Journal ISSN:
  • 2083-9480 (online)
  • 0001-6977 (print; ceased since 2016)
This is an Open Access journal, which distributes its content under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, provided that the content is properly cited.
The journal is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and aims to follow the COPE’s principles.
The journal publisher is a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association.
The journal content is indexed in Similarity Check, the Crossref initiative to prevent scholarly and professional plagiarism.
Polish Botanical Society