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Eastern Hemlock

Latin name:
Tsuga canadensis

Extracted from a waterfront pier near Wilmington, Delaware, the tree used to make this portion of the pier
actually came from a forest located in central Pennsylvania. The outermost tree ring dates to the late 1830s.

Giant Sequoia

Latin name:
Sequoiadendron giganteum

A close up of numerous fire scars on a giant sequoia cross section from Sequoia National Park in California, dating back well prior to A.D. 1000. Look closely! Can you find the sad bearded face cradled by his hands, as if he was crying?


Latin name:
Pseudotsuga menziesii

This photo shows the tree rings from a beam extracted many years ago from a pueblo in northeastern Arizona. The section shows many false rings and many micro-rings, suggesting this tree may have been growing in a marginal environment.

Ponderosa Pine

Latin name:
Pinus ponderosa

Close up of tree rings of a ponderosa pine collected at El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico, USA, showing tree rings centered around A.D. 1400. Notice the variability in ring widths indicative of sensitivity to year-to-year variation in precipitation.


Latin name:
Pseudotsuga menziesii

Perhaps my most requested image of tree rings, obtained from a small Douglas-fir growing in the Zuni Mountains of west-central New Mexico by my colleagues Rex Adams and Chris Baisan. Not very old, but has some of the most beautiful rings of all my displays!

White Oak

Latin name:
Quercus alba

Oak cores from the Hoskins House in Greensboro, North Carolina, site of a famous battle during the Revolutionary War. The house was built from trees cut in 1811 to 1813, not cut and built in the 1780s as the historical agency had hoped.

Ponderosa Pine

Latin name:
Pinus ponderosa

This ponderosa pine once grew at El Morro National Monument in New Mexico, USA, and was cut many years ago. Once you get up close to the stump, you can see a very old scar from a fire many hundreds of years ago that scarred the tree when it only about 12 years old!

Bahamian Pine

Latin name:
Pinus caribaea var. bahamensis

We collected many cross sections of Bahamian pines that had been cut for an industrial park on the island of Abaco, but the rings are very difficult to date! Many false rings, and the pine appears to terminate tree growth during the dry season.

Longleaf Pine

Latin name:
Pinus palustris

This cross section was one of many that came from an old crib dam across a creek that was exposed after a modern dam broke in Hope Mills, North Carolina in 2003. Such sections from old-growth longleaf pines are very rare and provide information on climate back to AD 1500!

White Oak

Latin name:
Quercus alba

Sometimes you don't have to look far to find beauty in wood, and sometimes it may not be a living tree! After an oak tree was cut a year or two before this section was obtained, decay fungi had already set in, beginning to break the wood down to its basic elements.

Southwestern White Pine

Latin name:
Pinus strobiformis

I collected this fire-scarred pine on Mt. Graham in southern Arizona in fall 1991, and it remains one of the best examples of how we can determine the season of fire by looking at the position of the scar within the ring.

Bristlecone Pine

Latin name:
Pinus longaeva

Bristlecone pines have become one of the best proxy records for those who study the history of volcanic eruptions because the cool temperatures caused by these eruptions create "frost rings" that form when the cells implode from the cold.

Eastern Redcedar

Latin name:
Juniperus virginiana

Many well-preserved eastern redcedar sections have been recovered from prehistoric sites in eastern Tennessee, and they have more than enough rings to date, but we don't have a long enough living-tree reference chronology to overlap with them!

Red Oak

Latin name:
Quercus rubra

Oak is by far the most common genus we find in the many historic structures we date using tree rings in the Southeastern U.S. The genus has good ring variability and rarely has problem rings. This section came from a historic tavern in Lexington, Virginia.

Sugar Maple

Latin name:
Acer saccharum

Maple, birch, beech, and basswood are all examples of hardwood species that form diffuse porous wood, meaning that the ring contains many small-diameter vessels all through the ring. Identifying the ring boundary on this wood type is a challenge to tree-ring scientists.

Live Oak

Latin name:
Quercus virginiana

Live oak is an example of an evergreen oak, which is not common within this genus. As such, the wood is semi-ring porous and the rings are very difficult to see and date. Ring growth is also very erratic, not forming the concentric around the tree that we require.


Latin name:
Pseudotsuga menziesii

These cores were collected on Mt. Graham in southern Arizona and show a major suppression event beginning in 1685 when missing rings became evident, followed by many micro-rings. This suppression was caused by a major wildfire in 1685!

Ponderosa Pine

Latin name:
Pinus ponderosa

I find it amazing what trees can record in their tree rings! Here we see a cross section of a pine that was damaged by a major flood in the year 1945 in the Chiricahua Mountains of southern Arizona. Notice the reaction wood that formed afterward.

Pignut Hickory

Latin name:
Carya glabra

Sometimes gray-scale imagery helps define tree rings when measuring. Although classified as "ring porous" species, the rather ill-defined tree rings in hickory tree species form large earlywood vessels and smaller latewoood vessels.

Subalpine Fir

Latin name:
Abies lasiocarpa

Decay has set in on the tree rings of this dead and downed subalpine fir that once grew on Apex Mountain in British Columbia, Canada, but the tree rings can still be measured and crossdated despite this!

White Fir

Latin name:
Abies concolor

We found a beautiful fire scar on this white fir that was used to build a cabin in the Valles Caldera of New Mexico. Thought to have been built in the early 1900s, we instead found the cabin was built form white fir and Douglas-fir trees cut in 1941.

Overcup Oak

Latin name:
Quercus lyrata

These oak cores were collected in northeastern Arkansas to investigate a change in the hydrologic regime of a wildlife refuge beginning in the 1990s. We found that trees at this site experienced a major disturbance event in the 1960s.

Western Juniper

Latin name:
Juniperus occidentalis

Near Frederick Butte in central Oregon, we discovered an unusual stand of western junipers that had the most unusual lobate growth forms we had ever seen. This site yielded a drought-sensitive chronology dating back to the AD 800s!

West Indies Pine

Latin name:
Pinus occidentalis

Above 3000 meters on the highest peak in the Carribean, we found an entire forest of these pines, many with fire scars, living on a steep rocky slope. The forest looked more like the dry ponderosa pine forests of the western U.S.

Whitebark Pine

Latin name:
Pinus albicaulis

Whitebark pines growing in the northern Rockies of the western U.S. can grow to be over 1,000 years old, but the species is slowly being decimated by the introduced white pine blister rust. Many of these ancient trees are now dead with ghostly white trunks.

Shagbark Hickory

Latin name:
Carya ovata

Curiously, tree-ring scientists rarely analyze some of the more common hardwood species in the eastern U.S., such as this hickory, perhaps because such forest interior trees may contain a weak climate signal necessary for crossdating.

Virginia Pine

Latin name:
Pinus virginiana

Blue stain found in many sections of dead pines (both in the western and eastern U.S.) is caused by a fungus carried by a pine beetle. The fungus spreads into the phloem and sapwood of living and dead pines, sometimes creating stunning patterns!

Pinyon Pine

Latin name:
Pinus edulis

Burned sections of pinyon pine are commonly found in archaeological sites in the southwestern U.S. These sections can be carefully broken or surfaced with a razor to reveal the ring structure inside to assist in dating the years of construction of the site.

Red Spruce

Latin name:
Picea rubens

Conifers in the highest elevations of the Appalachians of the eastern U.S., such as this red spruce, don't experience wildfires very often, but when fires do occur, they can create numerous fire scars even in this fire-intolerant species. Notice the growth release!

White Spruce

Latin name:
Picea glauca

This tree was located in the Canadian Rockies on the toe slope of an active avalanche path. The scar was created by a debris flow or snow avalanche which struck the tree, killing a section of the living tissue. The avalanche can therefore be dated to its exact year!

Engelmann Spruce

Latin name:
Picea engelmannii

I worked considerably in the spruce-fir forests of southern Arizona in my earliest years in dendrochronology, and learned that trees with limited sensitivity can provide a vast amount of information on the history of these forests.

Pondrosa Pine

Latin name:
Pinus ponderosa

The lava flows of El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico contain vast amounts of remnant wood, mostly ponderosa pines such as this sample, and the tree rings on these samples go back nearly 2000 years! Notice the year AD 1400 on this section.

Chestnut oak

Latin name:
Quercus montana

In the southeastern U.S., hardwood species are often scarred by wildfire. Most often, this also will cause considerable decay in the sample, but this oak had several well preserved fire scars, suggesting fire was common in these drier, lower elevation sites.

Pondrosa Pine

Latin name:
Pinus ponderosa

I originally sampled this stump in 1991 for its fire scars, located in El Malpais National Monument of New Mexico. I found it again 20 years later and was happy you could see the tree rings and fire scars clearly! It had originally been logged in the 1930s!

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  3. "I do like your dendrochronology pages and will be learning more about it as it relates to the fire cycle as we do fire weather forecasting here and support of large wildfires.
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    - Ed Broughton, Northern Arizona University

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    - Mark Swanson, College of Forest Resources, University of Washington

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  10. "Thank you for your web pages -- really impressive -- I have linked to it from my wood anatomy class web site for years now."
    - Elizabeth Wheeler, North Carolina State University

  11. "Thanks for the excellent website. It has been an invaluable resource in my senior research project  (undergrad Environmental Science) at Capital University. The site has excellent organization and is very user friendly. Dendro is a fascinating field; thanks for making it easier to understand."
    - Jack Byrom, Capital University, Columbus, Ohio

  12. "Just wanted to drop a line or two your way to say thank you for the fun and informative site!  I am a home-schooling mom of a first grader who found your site via the education index online. We are studying trees presently and have fallen in love with the great pictures you have provided. Your passion and enthusiasm really show. Thank you for sharing!"
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  13. "Many thanks for the great web site. I have just started a tree ring project at UC Davis and have found the site to be a tremendous resource. What a concept, a useful web site!!"
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  16. "I recently came across your wonderful dendrochronology website and found the information in it to be very useful to me!"
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  19. "Your page is indeed the best around, and it helped me a lot for getting a better idea of tree ring research!
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    - Forrest M. Mims III, Seguin, Texas

  27. "Thank you so much for your web page on Dendrochronology. I’m doing a research paper for my ninth grade English class, and I’ve been looking for a website that explained the methods of tree-ring dating used in one of my resources. Thank you for making the information easy to obtain and understand!"
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  28. "I am currently working on an interactive tree ring demonstration to share with visitors at the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale. Your website has been extremely helpful!"
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  48. "What a great web site! I am doing Archaeology at University. Needed information on dendrochronology, couldn't find any then found this site. I can't describe just how useful this site has been to me. Thanks."
    - Matthew Bresnen, University of Wales, Bangor. United Kingdom

  49. "I've a presentation to make over the next couple of days, to an area school's fifth graders, on forest ecology (including tree growth and silviculture). I was poking around the web looking for an easy to understand example of the cross section of a tree (I'm planning on passing out "tree cookies") and found your web site.......Great, easy to understand. Thanks for the information."
    - Michael Schira, Michigan State University Extension, Iron Mountain, Michigan

  50. "I am teaching a Biology course (High School) and would love to do a section on tree ring dating. Any suggestions of resources I might use to help my students understand what is going on. Thanks for any help you can give."
    - David Holder

  51. "I really enjoyed looking over your web site. I'm a Webelos Cub Scout Leader and a Homeschooling mom. What I was interested in for my Cub Scout meeting (for our Forestry merit badge/pin) was a crosscut of a tree."
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    - Rob Fiegener, University of California - Davis

  57. "I've followed, and have been increasingly impressed by your website over the years. The information and links have been incredibly helpful, and I've been especially appreciative of the detail and comments you've provided. Big help for this dendro-neophyte! Thanks."
    - Patricia Weyrick, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, New Hampshire

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    - Edie Taylor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas

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  63. "I think we "scientists" don't thank one another enough, so I want to say your selfless efforts on behalf of tree ring science are much appreciated. And, congratulations and thanks for your wonderful "ultimate" web site."
    - Owen Davis, Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona

  64. "I'm a graduate student in the Physics Department at Bandung Institute of Technology, Indonesia. I've seen your wonderful homepage. It is interesting to read your homepage and it is really useful for such beginners like me."
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  65. "Your site is a life saver. I have a huge project due on tree-rings relating to hurricanes. Without your wonderful explanations and definitions I would be lost. Thank you, thank you, thank you."
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    - Jay Cross, Internet Time Group, Berkeley, California

  67. "Just discovered your site and am anxious to explore it. I am working this summer as a arts and crafts counselor at a day camp for Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts (grades 1-6!). One of the badge activities is counting tree rings so I have been asked to incorporate that with a craft activity."
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  68. "Your site has been an enormous help in learning about dendro."
    - Mark Dahlager, Science Museum of Minnesota

  69. "I have always loved your ultimate tree ring pages, especially the ones of the cross sections of individual specimens showing the beautiful undulating patterns. They are great inspirations for paintings!"
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  72. "I would like to thank you for all the work you do in keeping the dendro community informed of recent publications, etc. Its a great help to people in the more far flung parts of the world."
    - Louise Cullen, Ecology and Entomology Group, Lincoln University, New Zealand

  73. "You have a nice web site on dendrochronology."
    - Murrell Selden

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  76. "We reviewed your tree ring site on my NetWatch page in Science about 3 years ago. I'm now compiling some links for an all-paleoclimate page (to go with a special issue of Science on paleoclimate). I plan to include your site even though we've highlighted it before."
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    - Ellen Anderson, Forestry Sciences Lab, Juneau, Alaska

  78. "I have been meaning to thank you for keeping a link to my research abstract in your marvelously looking and continuously evolving home page during all these years. Please keep it up. You are making it extremely convenient for people to get more information about tree-rings and its science. I am glad I always keep a link to your home site."
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    - Rex Adams, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, The University of Arizona

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    - Greg Barlar, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

  100. "I really enjoy your tree-ring pages and have been referring to them for the past two years."
    - Paul Muto, Nova Scotia Agricultural College
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