• Picea abies;
  • Pinus contorta;
  • Pinus sylvestris;
  • cold hardiness;
  • cold tolerance;
  • lodgepole pine;
  • Norway spruce;
  • respiration;
  • Scots pine;
  • sugar


Long-term effects of elevated winter temperatures on cold hardiness were investigated for Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst.), lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Dougl.) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.). Two-year-old seedlings with the same pre-history of growth and cold hardening in the field were maintained from early December to late March at two field sites in northern Sweden and in a cold room. The temperatures at these locations averaged –13·5, –8·9 and 5·5°C, respectively. Following treatments, carbohydrate contents and cold tolerances were assessed. Needle respiration was also analysed during the 5·5°C treatment. Cold tolerance of lodgepole pine and Scots pine was much reduced following the 5·5°C treatment. Cold tolerance was somewhat reduced in lodgepole pine following the –8·9 °C treatment, but was essentially maintained in spruce throughout all treatments. The cold tolerance of needles was strongly correlated with their soluble sugar contents. Spruce maintained cold hardiness by having larger reserves of sugars and lower rates of respiration which decreased more rapidly as sugars were depleted. Tolerance of lodgepole pine to frost desiccation was also much reduced following the 5·5°C treatment.