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Estimating Tree Age when looking for older sites
Posted by: gitterdug
Date: May 30, 2013 08:09AM
I put this on the CTX forum (my native forum), but wanted to cross post to here, as it has some relevelance for several forums on the site.

One of the things I love to do, is hunt older sites, mainly in the country. Here in Texas around my particular area (DFW), we don't go past about 1850's. In the country, driving around, I am always on the lookout for old homesites. I watch along creeks for rocks, vegetation, remnants of log cabins, etc., but from a distance, the biggest thing I see most of the time, are the out of place trees, built into a row, or a square, or by nature of their species, out of place.

Have you ever wondered about how to determine the age of a tree in the field? We can guestimate.....oh, a big ol' oak tree is 150 years, or a thick mesquite tree is 75 years, etc.

I stumbled across the following information and thought it might be of some value to someone on here, if for nothing else, than to help narrow down a site's age.....circa 1930 vs circa 1850. So, I hope this helps someone. I have this on my iphone and use it sometimes.

Finally, how do you folks determine ages of vegetation?



The Tree Aging Formula

Begin by determining the tree species and taking a diameter measurement (or circumference measurement) using a tape measure at Diameter Breast Height or 4.5 feet above stump level. If you are using circumference, you will need to make this calculation to determine the tree diameter: Diameter = Circumference divided by 3.14 (pi) I use the Audubon Field Guides app for my iphone to determine species if I am not sure, and there are a lot of apps out there.

Then calculate the age of the tree by multiplying the tree's diameter by its growth factor (see below): Diameter X Growth Factor = Approximate Tree Age. Let's use the hickory above to calculate age. A shagbark hickory's growth factor has been determined to be 7.5 and its diameter is 10 inches: 10 inch diameter X 7.5 growth factor = 75 years. Remember that the growth factors I provide are more accurate when taken for forest grown trees.

Growth Factors by Tree Species

Red Maple Species - 4.5 Growth Factor X diameter
Silver Maple Species - 3.0 Growth Factor X diameter
Sugar Maple Species - 5.0 Growth Factor X diameter
River Birch Species - 3.5 Growth Factor X diameter
White Birch Species - 5.0 Growth Factor X diameter
Shagbark Hickory Species - 7.5 Growth Factor X diameter
Green Ash Species - 4.0 Growth Factor X diameter
Black Walnut Species - 4.5 Growth Factor X diameter
Black Cherry Species - 5.0 Growth Factor X diameter
Red Oak Species - 4.0 Growth Factor X diameter
White Oak Species - 5.0 Growth Factor X diameter
Pin Oak Species - 3.0 Growth Factor X diameter
Basswood Species - 3.0 Growth Factor X diameter
American Elm Species - 4.0 Growth Factor X diameter
Ironwood Species - 7.0 Growth Factor X diameter
Cottonwood Species - 2.0 Growth Factor X diameter
Redbud Species - 7.0 Growth Factor
Dogwood Species - 7.0 Growth Factor X diameter
Aspen Species - 2.0 Growth Factor X diameter

Perhaps this is overkill for some folks, but when I am looking for that one special site to hunt, I want to know the site's age going in. At 60, in my overall physical health, I ain't diggin 9000 holes needlessly. I like the oldest sites I can get to, and though I don't always use this information, I do use it. LOL Chew the Cambium, spit the bark.

Re: Estimating Tree Age when looking for older sites
Posted by: Charles B
Date: May 30, 2013 11:04AM
Hello Gitterdug,

That's some great information.
While I never knew the exact formula I too look for trees that are planted in rows and other "domestic" types of vegatation. In particular I look for trees that show evidence of once having held a clothes line or those that may have been in the front yard of a homestead. Trees were always a gathering place for people.

Thanks Agaain,

H.Charles

Re: Estimating Tree Age when looking for older sites
Posted by: fongu
Date: August 20, 2013 03:11PM
Stay away from the "Hanging Trees", they'll choke you up. good information, thanks.

Re: Estimating Tree Age when looking for older sites
Posted by: Dirtyray
Date: December 12, 2013 11:11AM
Trees OH this is my passion i love to hunt near big old trees here on my family's farm there is a huge black walnut i used to play under it near the pond well MANY years later ..I got a whites coin master pro and was thinking maybe i should go swing this under that tree and WOW I STUMBLED ONTO MY GREAT GREAT GREAT GRANDDADS cabin there has been many good finds under this tree and still to this day with now my v3i in hand i still touch the past of MY blood lines NOW THAT'S COOL ...:detecting:



It could be worse ......

Re: Estimating Tree Age when looking for older sites
Posted by: andrew2001
Date: April 08, 2015 11:51AM
Thanks for posting this information. I love to hunt around trees. I usually find more around them. I would really like to find some old homesteads to hunt. Don't have too many in Utah though.

Re: Estimating Tree Age when looking for older sites
Posted by: Dirtdigger33
Date: April 26, 2015 03:59AM
Excellent post gitterdug. Hunting under trees is one of my favorites. When I had just started detecting I went to an older park and saw a guy detecting. I stopped off to talk to him and he said the park had been hit hard by people with metal detectors and I would not find much. I ended up searching under the tress some due to it being a hot place and found a ring and other things. 2 things I learned that day. Hunt under the trees and never believe a place is hunted out. Has stuck with me to this day. I can't wait to get to some old sites this year. Hope I am still detecting at 60. Thanks for the info. HH



Dirtdigger33

"Just because I am not metal detecting at this moment. It doesn't mean that I am not thinking about it."

Eldorado Umax, Bandido II Umax, Tesoro Compadre
Pinpointers: Vibraprobe 580 (2 of them, because they work).

Owned previously: Silver Sabre Umax, BH Pioneer 505, Discovery 3300, Vibratector 730.

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