Light rings in Chinese pine (Pinus tabulaeformis) in semiarid areas of north China and their palaeo-climatological potential


Author for correspondence: Dieter Eckstein Tel: +49 (0)40 73962 452 Fax: +49 (0)40 42891 2835 E-mail:


  • • Light rings in conifer trees are characterized by a light-coloured, narrow latewood band of thin-walled tracheids. Most reports on light rings have been for subarctic and subalpine regions, and little is known about their occurrence in semiarid areas.
  • • Dendrochronological methods were used to date the occurrence of light rings in Chinese pine (Pinus tabulaeformis) in the semiarid region of north China. The anatomical and chemical characteristics and the potential environmental controls of their formation were investigated.
  • • Light rings in Chinese pine were dated to the year of their formation. The wall thickness and lumen diameter of the wood cells of light rings and reference rings were distinctly different. However, the configuration of the light-ring latewood cell walls was normal, although they were thinner than average, and their lignification had been completed normally.
  • • The climate characteristics that result in light-ring formation appear to be ongoing severe drought from the previous autumn to July of the current year in conjunction with a warm summer, suggesting that light rings can be used as indicators for past drought events.