Difference between Heartwood and Sapwood

Difference Duramen and Alburnum

Heartwood vs Sapwood
(Similarities and Differences between Heartwood and Sapwood)

Anatomically, wood is the secondary xylem of seed-plants. As the tree ages, certain permanent changes take place in the wood. The inner parts of the wood become darker. The xylem in this central part is called heartwood or ‘duramen’. The peripheral part of the wood is light coloured and it is called sapwood or ‘alburnum’. The sap conduction occurs through the sapwood.

The dark colour of heartwood is due to the accumulation many aromatic substances, pigments and tannins. These changes make the wood more strong and durable and resistant to decay by insect or fungal attacks. The inner heartwood provides the mechanical support.

The present post discusses the similarities and differences between heartwood and soft wood with a comparison table.

Similarities between Heartwood and Sapwood

Ø  Both are composed of secondary xylem formed after many years of secondary growth.

Ø  Both are derived from the vascular cambium.

Ø  Both can provide mechanical support.

Heart wood and Sap wood

(image source: cc Wikipedia)

Difference between Heartwood and Sapwood

Sl. No.HeartwoodSapwood
1Heartwood occurs in the central portion of an old stem.Sapwood occurs in the peripheral (outer) portion of an old stem.
2Cells are comparatively older.Cells are comparatively younger.
3Also called as ‘Duramen’Also called as ‘Alburnum’
4Heartwood is dark coluredSapwood is light coloured.
5It is the dead and nonfunctional part of the secondary xylem.It is the living and functional part of the secondary xylem.
6The lumens of vessels and tracheids are plugged due to tyloses formation.Vessel and tracheid are not plugged. No tyloses formation.
7Cells store many ergastic substances such as resins and tannins.Cells do not store any ergastic substances.
8Cells store many ergastic substances such as resins and tannins.
Heartwood is heavier.
Sapwood is light in weight.
9Heartwood is the durable wood.Sapwood is not a durable wood.
10Heartwood is suitable for making furnitureSapwood is not suitable for making furniture.
11Wood is resistant to insect and fungal attacksWood is susceptible to insect and fungal attacks.

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