Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nature Journal: Tree Rings

What can a simple cross section of a tree reveal? Much more than just it's age to the savvy well-trained eye. Each year a tree forms a new tree ring, which is essentially a new layer of cambium, the layer of the tree responsible for moving food and nutrients between the roots and the tree itself. By counting these rings the tree's age can easily be determined. Spend a bit more time and examine the distance between the rings and you may learn about the tree's life.

Tight narrow tree rings indicate less favorable conditions than the wider more generously spaced rings.The spacing between the rings reveals a story about the tree's life and environmental conditions. A tree with narrow rings may be a tree that suffered through a multi-year drought or perhaps encountered difficulty finding enough nutrients, sun, or proper soil composition. Sudden widening of rings may indicate a larger competitor for light had fallen that year.

Enjoy the study of tree rings as much as I do? Check out the book Woodcut by Bryan Nash Gill. Gill is an artist who makes his own one of kind stamped images from tree rings.

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