Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More About Old Trees

Over the past few months, when the weather permitted, a number of Ponderosa Pines that appeared to fit the description of old trees were cored, using an increment borer.  This is a tool used by foresters to determine the approximate age of trees.  This process does little or no harm to the tree and has been an accepted method for many years.  Below are a few photos of some old trees and the stats that go with them.  It should be noted that the figures given are not exact and that the trees are cored at a height of about 4 feet from the ground, so they may in fact be as much as 10-20 years older than the estimate, depending on location, water availability, etc.

 This tree is located near the end of Sugarloaf Rd.  310 rings were counted and 10 added due to a small rotted core, giving it and estimated age of 320 years and an estimated pith date of 1692.

 These trees are located on the Lower Vista Rd. forestry trail.  The tree on the left, which has the well-healed fire scar shown in the first photo, had 311 rings counted.  10 were added to compensate for the core being slightly off center, giving the tree an estimated age of 321 years and a pith date of 1691.  The tree on the right is probably close in age, but although the tree appears perfectly healthy and sound, the core showed the tree is rotted internally starting about 3 inches into the tree, so an estimate was not possible.  It too has a fire scar.

This tree is also located on the Lower Vista forestry trail.  It has 311 counted rings, (no adjustment needed), giving it an age of 311 years and a pith date of 1701.  It also has at least one fire scar at the base, as well as exposed roots due to erosion.

This is a round from a beetle killed Ponderosa located along Crystal Park Rd. below the 3 Mile marker.  It shows that the tree was estimated to have an age of 299 years when it died (2011) and a pith date of 1712.  It also shows that the tree had a diameter of about 17 inches.  It was one of the larger trees.  Note the 14X loupe used to count the rings when needed.  Even with this magnification, counting can be difficult at times. Rings can be extremely close together so that they appear to be one ring, but they may show several years under high magnification (dry years?).

For much more information on old Ponderosa Pines on the Front Range, copy and paste this into your browser: