How do you age a palm tree because they don't have rings?

14 September 2008



How do you age a palm tree because they don’t have rings?


Kat - This is a really interesting one and it's very tough to date a palm tree because they don't have rings. Especially it applies to plants such as cacti and yukkas that don't have that ring structure. In the case of really old palms you also can't really radio carbon date them. This works for trees because they have the same consistent heartwood all their lives but this doesn't really happen for palms. Some botanists use techniques which include counting leaf scars. Palm trees make new leaves, leaves fall off. You can count how many scars there are and multiply it by the average time taken to grow new leaves. It's not great. Really the best technique is to look at historical information. If you can find out when an area was colonised by humans if the tree's not a native species they probably brought it with them. You can look at old written records, historical records, paintings, photos. There's not really a very good way to age a palm tree.


The markings and spikes that appear upward. These can be counted with eyes or sometimes microscope needed but definitely chemically tested in the lab for precise and accurate scientific aging. It is actually fun learning ages of trees in your surroundings.

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