Tree Rings

How to Know the Age of a Tree

If you are curious about the year that a tree was planted, then you are in luck, as there is an easy way to tell! You may have heard of how to identify the age of the tree by the rings within its trunk, but what’s inside the trunk can even tell us about the conditions/environment the tree was exposed to for its full life cycle.  A tree may have experienced drought, excessive rain, fire, insect plagues and disease epidemics, injuries, thinning or air pollution.  This can all be told by the trunk of the tree.

How to Identify Using Rings

 

tree age rings environmentThe only way to see the rings on a tree is for the entire horizontal surface of the trunk to be exposed.  After cutting horizontally through the tree, all you need to do is count the dark rings and you’ll know the tree’s age! You can also gain insight into environmental conditions affecting the tree based on the appearance of the rings. The rings could have some alteration to their shape, colour, and thickness.  For example, narrow rings may be due to insects or dry conditions. On the contrary, wide rings may indicate a wet-season or the death of neighbouring vegetation, permitting rapid growth. While this method may only work on dead trees, it is not impossible to date a living tree.

 

What About Living Trees?

Bisecting a living tree will obviously cause it immediate and irreparable damage. It is often important to identify the age of living trees. Fortunately, this is possible, even if only in a rough way. To do this, you need to multiply the diameter of the tree by its species-specific growth factor. First, you measure the circumference of the trunk in inches.  Next, calculate the diameter and then multiply the diameter by the species’ average growth factor.  Now you will have a rough age of the living tree! Here is a chart for trees and their associated growth factor. Naturally, you will need to know precisely what species you are dealing with, for that you may want to consult a professional- like the highly trained arborists at Brockley Tree Services.

 

 

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