Past studies have documented differences in epicuticular wax among several tree species but little attention has been paid to changes in accumulation of foliar wax that can occur during the year. We sampled current-year needles from the terminal shoots of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii) in late June/early July, late August and early November. Needles were sampled from two sites that differed in their climate and shoot phenology. Adaxial (upper), abaxial (lower) and cross-sectional surfaces were examined on scanning electron micrographs. Wax thickness increased significantly (P < 0.01) during the year (from 2.9 ± 0.26 µm in late June/early July to 4.4 ±0.13 µm in early November). Mean wax thickness was slightly thicker on adaxial (4.0 ± 0.16 µm) than on abaxial (3.5 ± 0.22 µm) surfaces (P = 0.03). There were no significant differences in wax thickness between needles sampled at the base of the terminal shoot or near the tip of the shoot. Tubular or rod-shaped epicuticular wax crystals were sparsely developed on adaxial surfaces, completely covered abaxial surfaces (including filling all stomatal cavities), and had the same general structure and appearance across sites and sampling dates. Some erosion of epicuticular wax crystals on adaxial surfaces and presence of amorphous wax on abaxial surfaces was observed late in the year when epicuticular wax thickness was the thickest. Fungal hyphae were observed on top of epicuticular wax crystals and emerging from stomatal pores.
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Vol. 89 • No. 4