Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/262645
Title:
Tree-Rings and the Aging of Trees: A Controversy in 19th Century America
Author:
Briand, Christopher H.; Brazer, Susan E.; Harter-Dennis, Jeannine M.
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Sciences, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD 21801; Blackwell Library, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD 21801; Department of Agriculture, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, MD 21853
Citation:
Briand, C.H., Brazer, S.E., Harter-Dennis, J.M. 2006. Tree-rings and the aging of trees: A controversy in 19th century America. Tree-Ring Research 62(2):51-65.
Publisher:
Tree-Ring Society
Journal:
Tree-Ring Research
Issue Date:
2006
URI:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/262645
Additional Links:
http://www.treeringsociety.org
Abstract:
During the late 19th Century there was considerable debate in the United States among members of the legal profession, the general public and even some scientists about the validity of using tree rings to determine tree age. In an earlier boundary dispute case in Maryland (1830) the Honorable Theodorick Bland rejected the use of tree rings to establish the date when a purported witness tree was marked with an identifying blaze. Bland did not believe that there was enough scientific evidence or legal precedent to support this idea. A review of the current scientific literature of the time, however, indicates that most scientists, especially in Europe, accepted that tree rings could be used to determine age. In the United States, however, this idea was debated, particularly in the late 19th Century, in both the popular press and scientific publications. The main argument of opponents such as A. L. Child was that the number of tree rings was often wildly in excess of the known age of the tree. These inconsistencies were likely because of the inexperience of the observer, mistaking earlywood and latewood for separate rings, and the presence of a small number of false rings, sometimes called secondary rings. The great ages reported for the giant sequoias may have also raised doubts among the public. Among scientists, however, the relationship between ring number and tree age and between ring width and climate became widely accepted. Several cases heard in both Federal and State Courts as well as Bernhard E. Fernow’s Age of Trees and Time of Blazing Determined by Annual Rings laid to rest any doubt of the relationship between tree rings and age in temperate forests, i.e. one ring equals one year’s growth, and showed that the date when a witness tree was blazed could be easily determined from a cross-section of the trunk.
Type:
Article
Language:
en_US
Keywords:
Dendrochronology; Tree Rings; Boundary Disputes; 19th Century; Witness Trees
ISSN:
2162-4585; 1536-1098

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.contributor.authorBriand, Christopher H.en_US
dc.contributor.authorBrazer, Susan E.en_US
dc.contributor.authorHarter-Dennis, Jeannine M.en_US
dc.date.accessioned2012-12-14T00:24:30Z-
dc.date.available2012-12-14T00:24:30Z-
dc.date.issued2006-
dc.identifier.citationBriand, C.H., Brazer, S.E., Harter-Dennis, J.M. 2006. Tree-rings and the aging of trees: A controversy in 19th century America. Tree-Ring Research 62(2):51-65.en_US
dc.identifier.issn2162-4585-
dc.identifier.issn1536-1098-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10150/262645-
dc.description.abstractDuring the late 19th Century there was considerable debate in the United States among members of the legal profession, the general public and even some scientists about the validity of using tree rings to determine tree age. In an earlier boundary dispute case in Maryland (1830) the Honorable Theodorick Bland rejected the use of tree rings to establish the date when a purported witness tree was marked with an identifying blaze. Bland did not believe that there was enough scientific evidence or legal precedent to support this idea. A review of the current scientific literature of the time, however, indicates that most scientists, especially in Europe, accepted that tree rings could be used to determine age. In the United States, however, this idea was debated, particularly in the late 19th Century, in both the popular press and scientific publications. The main argument of opponents such as A. L. Child was that the number of tree rings was often wildly in excess of the known age of the tree. These inconsistencies were likely because of the inexperience of the observer, mistaking earlywood and latewood for separate rings, and the presence of a small number of false rings, sometimes called secondary rings. The great ages reported for the giant sequoias may have also raised doubts among the public. Among scientists, however, the relationship between ring number and tree age and between ring width and climate became widely accepted. Several cases heard in both Federal and State Courts as well as Bernhard E. Fernow’s Age of Trees and Time of Blazing Determined by Annual Rings laid to rest any doubt of the relationship between tree rings and age in temperate forests, i.e. one ring equals one year’s growth, and showed that the date when a witness tree was blazed could be easily determined from a cross-section of the trunk.en_US
dc.language.isoen_USen_US
dc.publisherTree-Ring Societyen_US
dc.relation.urlhttp://www.treeringsociety.orgen_US
dc.rightsCopyright © Tree-Ring Society. All rights reserved.en_US
dc.subjectDendrochronologyen_US
dc.subjectTree Ringsen_US
dc.subjectBoundary Disputesen_US
dc.subject19th Centuryen_US
dc.subjectWitness Treesen_US
dc.titleTree-Rings and the Aging of Trees: A Controversy in 19th Century Americaen_US
dc.typeArticleen_US
dc.contributor.departmentDepartment of Biological Sciences, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD 21801en_US
dc.contributor.departmentBlackwell Library, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD 21801en_US
dc.contributor.departmentDepartment of Agriculture, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, MD 21853en_US
dc.identifier.journalTree-Ring Researchen_US
dc.description.collectioninformationThis item is part of the Tree-Ring Research (formerly Tree-Ring Bulletin) archive. It was digitized from a physical copy provided by the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at The University of Arizona. For more information about this peer-reviewed scholarly journal, please email the Editor of Tree-Ring Research at editor@treeringsociety.org.en_US
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