How do you age a palm tree?

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How do you age a palm tree?
« on: 11/09/2008 10:36:47 »
Sophia  asked the Naked Scientists:

I was just wondering, how would you determine the age of a palm tree if
it doesn't have any rings?

I have not been wondering about this forever,  but it's really bugging me, and you sound like a smart dude. I know how to determine the age of a tree that's got rings, but that's only if it has, well, rings. Please reply soon!


What do you think?


Offline Evie

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How do you age a palm tree?
« Reply #1 on: 11/09/2008 15:23:12 »
It is very difficult!

Carbon dating can be used on some trees that don't have rings, but palm trees generally can't because there isn't a definable part of their trunk that has been there since the tree's early years (like heartwood).

You can do an age assumption based on the standard (average) growth rate of that variety of palm. These can be highly innacurate, though, since it assumes several things, such as growth being constant over the tree's lifespan.

The only other way is through historical records, like if the tree were in a private garden or somewhere where records of plantings are kept.
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
Act I, scene 5



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How do you age a palm tree?
« Reply #2 on: 11/09/2008 22:21:28 »
Carbon dating only works for ancient wood as it has significant upper and lower limits. Because C14 decay is logarithmic the standard deviation/error factor may be larger than the date obtained.


Offline chris

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How do you age a palm tree?
« Reply #3 on: 11/09/2008 23:33:51 »
Don't they add a certain number of new fronds, on average, per year, so counting the number of stumps where fronds emerged could give a ball-park indication could it not?


P.S. I toyed with the "how do you DATE a palm tree" pun, but abandoned it...
« Last Edit: 12/09/2008 16:23:30 by chris »
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