How old is that tree ?

How old is that tree ?

How often does the question arise "how old is that tree"?  Experienced foresters can often look at a tree and make a good estimate, based on trees they have felled in different areas where different growth rates can lead to trees of very different size of the same age.

For the less experienced, ageing trees can be much more difficult, assuming we are not felling them to count rings!  Some trees are virtually impossible to age, very old yew, mainly because of their great age cannot be accurately dated, see http://www.ancient-yew.org/mi.php/dating-yews/99 for further details.

An increment borer can give a good indication of age, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Increment_borer by taking a thin core from the tree where the rings can then be counted. However some ageing can be very straight forward, here is a method that can be used on Scots and other pines.

From the photo of the young Scots Pine the annual growth pattern can easily be seen : each year the tree sends out a new apical shoot and from this one whorl of lateral shoots emerge. The space between lateral shoots represents 1 year's growth. As the tree ages these shoots are seen as branches radiating out from the trunk, the very old ones almost disappear.

How old is the tall Scots pine in this photo? Click here


I would hazard a guess the tree is between 3-5 years young.

Andrew J Dickinson

26 October, 2014

Dr MD – are you looking at the picture on the link or the one accompanying the article? I would guess it’s the latter. I’m looking at this tree here:

Dan Waters

8 November, 2011

More like 3-4 years!


6 November, 2011

I will go along with 32 years or so, picture quality fades out as the tree heightens

Dave Buckingham

6 November, 2011

I think about 33 maybe 34 years…


2 November, 2011

I make it about 32 yrs

Dan Waters

1 November, 2011

About 43 years?

Brecon smallholder

31 October, 2011

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