You’re on a walk, and you spot a towering tree. Its trunk is so large that you can’t even wrap your arms all the way around it! That tree must have been growing for years and years… How old could it be?
There are several ways to tell a tree’s age. One way involves counting the rings of the tree! However, this method only works with trees that have been cut down. If you ever get a chance to view a slice of a tree trunk, you will notice the tree’s rings. Each ring (which includes a light portion and a dark portion) represents one year of the tree’s life. Counting these rings allows you to tell how old the tree is!
Taking a core sample of the tree’s trunk can also help determine the age of a tree. A special tool must be used, and scientists are finding new ways to get these samples without damaging the tree. Rings are visible in the core, so once the core sample is removed, the rings can be counted to reveal the tree’s age.
Scientists can also create charts to help others determine the age of trees in their area. For example, researchers in Chicago used core samples to find the ages of many local trees, then took this information to create a user-friendly aging chart. A person can use the chart in combination with math calculations, such as measuring the circumference of the tree (the distance around the trunk), to figure out the tree’s age!