Parenchyma is an important living tissue of plants, where this versatile cell type can be found in the cortex and pith of stems, in the cortex of toots, the mesophyll of leaves, in the pulp of fruit and finally in the endosperm of seeds. It can also be found in the secondary xylem of more mature wood of both stems and roots. Their functions are numerous, ranging from storage and metabolism, to wound repair and more specialised functions such as aeration (e.g. in the roots of mangrove species) and support. Parenchyma is split into two main types, axial and radial parenchyma, with both types imparting with different functions, although closely allied however, where together they form a highly interconnected three dimensional network.

The purpose of my doctorate studies is to further elucidate the functional significance of both radial and axial parenchyma in the secondary xylem of woody plants and to help solve the puzzle as to why certain species have a very low proportion of parenchyma in their wood when compared to others. In order to do this we have to look closely at evolutionary trends between closely related species along with their morphological adaptation to contrasting eco-regions. For an example, we will look at closely related woody plants from both temperate and tropical biomes and attempt to solve why there are such significant differences in the amount of parenchyma between them. A multidisciplinary approach is required here, which will bring together the disciplines of both wood anatomy and plant eco-physiology, where the findings should hugely contribute towards our understanding of plant growth and function. 


Sano, Y, Morris, H, Shimada, H, Ronse De Craene, LP, Jansen, J (2011). Anatomical features associated with water transport in impordoratetracheary elements of vessel-bearing angiosperms. Annals of Botany, 107(6): 953-964.

Morris, H. 2010. Tree Pruning. International Dendrology Society annual year book, 2010.

Morris, H. 2013. The Biological Responses of Trees to Pruning. International Dendrology Society annual year book, 2013.




2013- 2016 (exp.)     Ph.D. Plant biology at the University of Ulm, Germany, with focus on the functional significance of parenchyma in the xylem of woody plants.

2011- 2012                Post Graduate in Higher Education, at the University of Brighton.

2006 – 2007              M.Sc. in the Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants, the University of Edinburgh/Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (Researched at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew).

2001 - 2005               B.Sc. (Hons) Arboriculture, Forestry Department, University of Central Lancashire/Myerscough,Preston, Lancs.

Work experience

Sep 2011-July 2013: Associate lecturer in the Forestry Department of the University of Brighton/Plumpton College.

Dec 2008 – Sep 2011: Tree officer of Open Spaces for Test Valley borough Council

Sep 2007 – Oct 2008: Masters of Science at Edinburgh University/RBGE

Sep 2005-Sep 2006: Employed as a Woodland assistant manager for Tim Whiteleyto assist in the management and running of a woodland gardens in Brackley, Northants.

June 2003–Sep 2003: Employed by the Royal Horticultural Society as a Supervisor to Implement a Tree Hazard Evaluation System for Wisley Gardens (RHS).

Sep 2002-Sep 2003: Employed by the Royal Horticultural Society as a working student to carry out arboricultural duties including tree and estate management.

April 2000 – Sep 2000: Employed by Hilliers as a working student on their tree farm at Liss, Hampshire.