The production of xylem and phloem sets up tangential stretching forces through the bark. In the living inner bark the resulting strains are mainly accommodated in Dipterocarpaceae by the formation of expansion tissue. The strain set up by a given annual girth increment decreases with increasing girth to a low steady amount at about 90 cm (3 ft) girth. Phloem formation in a mature tree only sets up small strains. These increase from zero at the cambium to a maximum at the surface. Many barks have more expansion tissue than this accounts for; the rest accommodates the strains set up by xylem formation. The tangential extent of the expansion tissue at a given distance from the cambium in any bark is in fact a measure of the ratio of the xylem and phloem growth rates. The three groups of Bark Types in Dipterocarpaceae with different amounts of expansion tissue (Whitmore, 1962a) are therefore groups with different xylem/ phloem ratios.
Phloem growth rate determines periderm pattern and sometimes sloughing rate too. Fissure shape is controlled by periderm pattern and sloughing rate. The xylem growth rate is similar in different groups of dipterocarps. Thus the xylem/phloem ratio is an inverse measure of the phloem growth rate which cannot be measured directly. There is therefore a correlation between the xylem/phloem ratio and periderm pattern, sloughing and fissure shape.
Similarities within the three groups of Bark Types in Dipterocarpaceae arise, therefore, from the dependence of periderm pattern, sloughing and fissure shape on the xylem/phloem ratio. Differences within the three groups arise from features, which are independent of the ratio: inter alia the phloem proliferation tissue, which probably varies phenotypically, and the sloughing mechanism.
It follows that the xylem/phloem ratio is an important factor in the interpretation of diptero-carp bark construction.
There is no evidence of growth periodicity in the barks examined. Calculations show that the phloem is often conducting for more than 1 year to an observed maximum of 11.4 years; this is in marked contrast with most reports for temperate phloems.