• Castanea sativa (European chestnut);
  • earlywood;
  • tree rings;
  • dendrochronology;
  • vessel size;
  • ring-porous


  • • 
    Wood anatomical features measured in dated tree rings have often proven to be of ecological value. However, little is known about the suitability and power of such measurements studied in a year-to-year basis as is done in dendrochronology.
  • • 
    The present work is based on a comparative analysis of 60 dated time-series of earlywood features of chestnut (Castanea sativa) grown in the climatic context of the Southern part of the Swiss Alps.
  • • 
    It has been shown that the earlywood vessel area is a suitable ecological indicator. This variable, although not very sensitive, contains environmental information that is different from that stored in all other ring-width and earlywood features we considered. The vessel size is mainly related to the temperature during two physiologically crucial periods for vessel growth: the end of the previous vegetation period (during reserve storage) and the onset of cambial activity (during cell division and vessel differentiation).
  • • 
    Our work shows that the mean vessel size of the ring-porous chestnut contains ecophysiological information that can be used for research in dendrochronology.