Growth and drought reaction of European hornbeam, European white elm, field maple and wild service tree

Julia Schmucker, Enno Uhl, Gerhard Schmied, Hans Pretzsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Key message: Considering their drought tolerance and growth characteristics, rare native tree species are well-suited admixed species for the development of climate-stable forests in Central Europe. Abstract: In our study, we assessed the growth and drought reaction of the four rare native tree species European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus L.), European white elm (Ulmus laevis Pall.), field maple (Acer campestre L.), and wild service tree (Sorbus torminalis (L.) Crantz). Based on tree-ring data, we (I) evaluated their species-specific growth characteristics and variability and examined the influencing site and tree characteristics on annual growth. (II) We quantified their reaction to single drought events, also depending on site and tree variables. (III) We compared our results to oak (Quercus robur L., Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl.) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.). As they are well-known Central European tree species, there is a broad knowledge about their growth and drought response across wide geographical ranges available. Bringing the results of European beech and oak in relation with the rare native species, it allows to categorise their growth and drought reaction and to contextualise their performance. Our results show, that besides European white elm, the rare species showed an overall lower annual growth with a higher variability than European beech and oak. However, especially field maple and wild service tree were better adapted to drought than European beech and partially even recovered better than oak. Combining the aspects of growth stability and drought tolerance, we conclude that rare native tree species are well suited as admixed species in future forest stands. European hornbeam is a suitable match for European beech on wetter sites, while field maple and wild service tree are a sensible complement for the climate stable oak on drier sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1515-1536
Number of pages22
JournalTrees - Structure and Function
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Drought
  • Growth
  • Rare native tree species
  • Variability


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