The activity of cambium is under the control of many physiological and environmental factors. In temperate regions, the climatic conditions are not uniform through the year. In the spring season, cambium is very active and produces a large number of xylary elements having vessels with wider cavities. The wood formed during this season is called spring wood or early wood.
In winter, the cambium is less active and forms fewer xylary elements that have narrow vessels, and this wood is called autumn wood or late wood.
The spring wood is lighter in color and has a lower density whereas the autumn wood is darker and has a higher density. The two kinds of woods that appear as alternate concentric rings, constitute an annual ring. Annual rings seen in a cut stem give an estimate of the age of the tree.