How to Tell the Age of a Tree in 4 Ways

Ever wondered how many years that impressive tree in your yard has existed? As trees grow older, they offer myriad clues about their age. The events they survived creates an awesome sense of mystery. 

During our expert tree service in Gulfport, MS, our arborists at Professional Tree Service enjoy the privilege of servicing numerous old trees. If you want to know how to tell the age of a tree, check out our methods below. 

how to tell the age of a tree

How Tree Growth Works

If you’ve ever looked at a stump or a slice of trunk, you’ll notice two sets of rings: thin, dark rings and thicker, light rings. The light rings show a tree’s growth during spring and early summer. The dark rings indicate its growth in late summer and early autumn. 

During cold winter months, trees lose their leaves in a brilliant show of shimmering hues before going dormant. Their trunks and branches cease growth completely. Their roots further develop instead.  

How to Tell the Age of a Tree

If you don’t know how to tell the age of a tree, you can try one of the following methods to get an estimate. Since tree growth depends on available resources and overall health, you might not get the tree’s precise age. However, getting a general idea can help you better care for the tree with additional services and extend its life even further. 

#1 Use a Math Equation

First, find the tree’s circumference using a measuring tape. Wrap the tape around the tree’s trunk between four to five feet above the ground. Translate the measurement into inches. 

Then, divide the circumference in inches by Pi (3.14). The equation provides the tree’s diameter. 

Next, find the tree’s growth factor. Different tree types will have particular growth factors. You can use a search engine to find your tree’s growth factor. 

Finally, multiply the growth factor by the diameter. The resulting number should reveal your tree’s approximate age. 

#2 Whorl Inventory

A whorl is a layer of branches that forms a circle around the tree’s trunk. Evergreen trees usually have whorls. However, many other varieties do not. 

Still, you can find the age of your coniferous trees using this method. Each year, coniferous trees produce a new whorl of fresh branches. Count the rows of whorls to find the estimated age. 

Remember to include whorls of lost or cut branches too! Some trees lose branches during debris removal or pruning services or because of natural damage. After counting the whorl layers, add two to four years to the total to find the conifer’s age.  

#3 Use a Borer

This method is far more accurate. It also requires the proper equipment. You’ll need a tree borer that can reach at least three-fourths of the trunk’s depth. 

First, drill the borer into the trunk at chest height. Once the borer reaches just over halfway into the trunk, you can twist it out. Then, slide the sample extractor into the top of the borer. Twist the borer in the opposite direction to remove it from the trunk. 

The extractor should have a trunk sample twisted around it. Count the rings to find the tree’s age. 

#4 Ask Tree Service Professionals

If you don’t have the equipment or you are unsure of your math skills, request a tree service quote from a professional. They’ll help you find the age and provide information and services to preserve your old-growth trees

Let Professional Tree Service Keep Your Oldest Tree in Shape

At Professional Tree Service, we know how to tell when a tree is dead and how to tell the age of a tree. Get a free estimate on our services’ average costs to improve your trees’ health! Call (228) 669-9388

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