A Few Simple Tricks to Measure a Tree’s Height and Estimate Its Age. You Don’t Need Any Advanced Equipment!

    A Few Simple Tricks to Measure a Tree’s Height and Estimate Its Age. You Don’t Need Any Advanced Equipment!

    6:39 PM EDT, May 3, 2022

    Whenever we look at a tree we wish we knew how tall it is and how old it is. Luckily there are a few simple ways we can do that! All you need is basic mathematics, a meter stick and the shadow. How to estimate a tree’s height?

    The shadow method

    On a sunny day stand right next to the tree and measure your shadow. Then measure the shadow of the tree. Now, using some basic calculations, you can find how much the tree is taller than you, simply by dividing the tree’s height by yours.

    h = b ÷ a x T

    h= the tree’s height

    a= length of your shadow (in meters)

    b= length of shadow of the tree (in meters)

    T= your height (in meters)


    The stick method


    One person stands by the tree. The other one walks several meters away. In a stretched arm he/she holds a stick. Looking with just one eye they mark the height of the person standing by the tree on the stick held. Then the marked section is put on the tree. Finally you need to multiply the height of the person standing by the tree by the number of sections put on the tree. This will tell you how tall the tree is.

    Breast-height diameter

    VTmaddogVT / public domain
    VTmaddogVT / public domain

    Measure the diameter of the trunk at 1.3 meters. This is the so-called ‘breast-height diameter’. Then using a special chart (many of them available online) you can read out how old a given tree is. Still, the value will be approximate as there are many factors affecting the yearly growth of a given plant, including soil fertility, weather conditions, location, etc.

    The whorl method

    Lasy Państwowe/facebook
    Lasy Państwowe/facebook

    In case of conifer trees the easiest method of estimating their age is to count the whorl branches. These are those who grew within a single vegetation season from a given caulome. Count all the branches and add a year or two (this is how long a seedling needs to reach the height of the first whorl). The number of whorls usually corresponds to the age of the tree.

    Do you know any other ways to estimate the age or the height of a tree?
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