Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2019Peer reviewedOpen access

Comparing direct and indirect leaf area measurements for Scots pine and Norway spruce plantations in Sweden

Goude, Martin; Nilsson, Urban; Holmstrom, Emma


The area of foliage absorbing solar radiation is often expressed as leaf area index (LAI). In this study, specific leaf area (SLA), leaf area at tree level (LA) and LAI at stand level were measured on eight experimental plots of Norway spruce (Picea abies) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), together with tree and stand measurements from biomass harvest. Both projected area and half total surface area were measured, and a model of the relationship between the units was constructed. SLA was larger for pine (61.62 cm(2) g(-1)) compared to spruce (50.2 cm(2) g(-1)) and showed a trend of decreasing higher up in the crown. Leaf area was significantly higher for Norway spruce compared to Scots pine on both tree and stand level. Models were constructed using diameter at breast height, tree height and stand basal area to estimate LA. The models were general site-independent models that can be used for easy estimations of single tree leaf area. Indirect measurement of LAI (LAIe) was shown to underestimate LAI with on average 30-73% depending on species and measurement technique. Using the extensive data collected, conversion models were constructed for estimating LAI from LAIe together with basal area, stem number and stand height. These species-specific conversion models will allow for more accurate estimations of LAI that can be used in mechanistic models of forest growth and for future estimates of LAI from remote sensing data.


Leaf area index; Specific leaf area; Surface area; Hemispherical photography; Plant canopy analyzer; Conversion model

Published in

European Journal of Forest Research
2019, Volume: 138, number: 6, pages: 1033-1047 Publisher: SPRINGER