Abstract A mass-based carbon (C) concentration ([C]) of 50% in dry wood is widely accepted as a constant factor for conversion of biomass to C stock. However, the [C] varies with tree species, and few data on [C] are available for the Chinese temperate tree species. In this study, we examined inter- and intra-specific variations of [C] in biomass tissues for 10 co-occurring temperate tree species in northeastern China. The species were Korean pine ( Pinus koraiensis Sieb. et Zucc.), Dahurian larch ( Larix gmelinii Rupr.), Mongolian oak ( Quercus mongolica Fisch.), white birch ( Betula platyphylla Suk.), Amur cork-tree ( Phellodendron amurense Rupr.), Manchurian walnut ( Juglans mandshurica Maxim.), Manchurian ash ( Fraxinus mandshurica Rupr.), aspen ( Populous davidiana Dode), Mono maple ( Acer mono Maxim.), and Amur linden ( Tilia amurensis Rupr.). The mean tissue [C] across the species varied from 47.1% in fine root to 51.4% in foliage. The mean stem [C] of the 10 species was 49.9 ± 1.3% (mean ± SE). The weighted mean C concentration (WMCC) for the species ranked as: Amur cork-tree (55.1%) > Amur linden (53.9%) > Korean pine (53.2%) > Manchurian ash (52.9%) > Manchurian walnut (52.4%) > Mongolian oak (47.6%) > Dahurian larch (46.9%) > Mono maple (46.4%) > white birch (46.1%) > aspen (43.7%). The WMCC of the dominant trees was negatively correlated to mean annual increment of biomass (MAI), suggesting that planting fast-growing tree species for C sequestration in afforestation and reforestation practices sacrifice some C gain from increasing MAI due to decreasing [C]. Failing to account for the inter- and intra-specific variations in [C] will introduce a relative error of −6.7% to +7.2% in estimates of biomass C stock from inventory data, of which >93% is attributed to ignoring the inter-specific variation in [C].