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Author Topic: how old is my water oak?  (Read 13534 times)

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Offline quercophile

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how old is my water oak?
« on: June 20, 2008, 03:52:35 pm »
Hey, Folks,

I recently bought a house in Atlanta, GA with a big old water oak (quercus nigra, I think) in the back. I'm wondering how old it is.

The dbh is about 4.5 feet.

Ihave tried to find some data on average growth ring width for this species in this area, but have come up empty handed.

I don't even know what a reasonable width for a growth ring for the water oak is, so I'm not even sure how to get a ballpark
estimate of its' age.

Recently I had to have a large (>12in where it joined the trunk) storm-damaged limb removed from the tree, and counting the rings near the base of the limb, i count ~65.

Where can I find data on average growth ring width, and what do you guys estimate this tree's age to be?

any comments are appreciated.

Thanks!

--
q.p.
--
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Offline Tom

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Re: how old is my water oak?
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2008, 04:05:14 pm »
Welcome to the forum quercophile.

Water Oaks aren't known for their longivity.  They mature and begin to degrade at 60-80 years.  There general lifespan is liberally 80 to 125 but may live to 150.  Most succumb to disease by the age of 50.

The average growth ring size is a ghost you could chase forever.  I don't think there is such a thing.  The ring is too dependent on the tree's health and growing conditions.  I don't think it would be too unusual to guess the trees  age at 80 or 90 years.  The only sure way to know is to have it "cored" and count the rings, or to do some research and make some educated guesses about the age of the houses in the area and even, perhaps, coming up with some pictures.  Since water oaks are so short lived, it's not unusual to find someone still alive who can tell you about their planting date.

extinct

Offline Lanier_Lurker

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Re: how old is my water oak?
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2008, 05:03:46 pm »
Must be a decent sight for it to have gotten that big.  Tom is probably right and it is under 100 years.

Offline Lanier_Lurker

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Re: how old is my water oak?
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2008, 05:05:03 pm »
Oh, I forgot to mention - we love pictures on this forum.   8) 8)

Offline quercophile

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Re: how old is my water oak?
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2008, 08:42:41 pm »
Wow, impressive response time there, guys! I don't think my first post was up an hour before Tom and company responded!

Thanks for the welcome as well.

I don't have good pictures of the oak, but I do have a small flickr album of the arborist at work:

[ I don't have versions of these pictures that are small enough to fit in the local gallery, so if you want to see them, look me up on flickr and see the "tree" gallery ]


I'll take some better ones with objects for scale this weekend.

Thanks, guys!
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Offline WDH

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Re: how old is my water oak?
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2008, 09:45:07 pm »
I am with Tom too.  It is not at all unreasonable for a water oak to experience 1/4" of radial growth a year if it is in a good growing environment.  I would not be surprised if it is as young as 65 to 80 years.
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Offline metalspinner

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Re: how old is my water oak?
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2008, 09:58:57 pm »
The biggest oak I milled from my urban logging adventures was 5 1/2 feet in diameter.  If I remember correctly it had only 65 rings in it. :-\   It was a red oak.  Not sure what kind.
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Offline quercophile

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Re: how old is my water oak?
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2008, 10:18:23 pm »
I am with Tom too.  It is not at all unreasonable for a water oak to experience 1/4" of radial growth a year if it is in a good growing environment.  I would not be surprised if it is as young as 65 to 80 years.

That would jive with the construction of the neighborhood; the houses were built mid-to-late 30s, with this house being finished in '39.
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Offline WDH

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Re: how old is my water oak?
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2008, 10:20:57 pm »
Some of the finest sawlogs in Georgia are in Fulton County.
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Offline rebocardo

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Re: how old is my water oak?
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2008, 09:53:48 pm »
Oaks in this area grow about 1/4" a year in good weather going by the ones I have cut down. I have probably only cut down two water oaks and did not measure their rings, so, it is possible they might grow a bit more, though I doubt it.

Something 48 inches wide would then be about 100 years old (1/2 diameter = 24 x 4 = 96 years or so).



Offline scsmith42

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Re: how old is my water oak?
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2008, 01:21:23 pm »
I have two red oaks in my wood lot that measure around 54" DBH, and they each have 77 rings.
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Offline WDH

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Re: how old is my water oak?
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2008, 11:09:53 pm »
That is about 1/3 of an inch of radial growth (each side of the trunk or 1/2 the diameter) per year.

They grow faster than most people think, especially oak on a good site.
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Offline Riles

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Re: how old is my water oak?
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2008, 07:24:19 am »
I helped my father in law cut down a live oak that had gotten too large for the backyard of a rental property. Radial growth was 3/4 of an inch, the tree was only 25 years old.

Probably a pretty good site.  :D
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Offline Phorester

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Re: how old is my water oak?
« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2008, 10:31:49 am »

You probaby don't want to know what was buried under that live oak by a renter to make it grow so fast.
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: how old is my water oak?
« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2008, 06:20:58 pm »
Red oak here seem to favor less than ideal soil, kinda wet and sometimes real dry and rocky. They do grow faster than sugar maple and yellow birch. Yellow birch, grows slower than sugar maple it seems around here. A lot of our maple ridges are reverting back to yellow birch after being harvested. I have thinned a lot of new yellow birch stands. But, I digress and meander. ;D

Open grown radial growth is quite different on the front lawn than in the forest. ;D

I had a sound balsam fir blow down this past fall with 45 rings on the stump and 18" at 1 meter above stump, 45 feet tall. I see all kinds of 45 year old fir 45 feet tall from old thinnings and no where near 18". ;D

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

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Offline wpschamp

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Re: how old is my water oak?
« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2017, 12:01:08 pm »
Hey there. I've been reading through the threads, and am curious to have someone help me approximate the age of my Water Oaks. I have three in my yard, and I know that they are well over 50 years old. We built our house 25 years ago, and the trees were taller than our two-story. Our largest tree measures 14'6" in mid-trunk diameter. The second tree is 14' in diameter and the smallest is 13'6" in diameter. We transplanted a young Water Oak from our fencerow to the back yard when it was about four feet tall. The tree was transplanted around 20 years ago and has a diameter of around 5 feet. I tried including pics of the largest tree and the transplanted tree for reference purposes, but I'm not sure what happened to the pics. Any information on these trees would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

Offline LeeB

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Re: how old is my water oak?
« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2017, 01:13:28 pm »
I think perhaps you mean circumference.
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Offline ChugiakTinkerer

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Re: how old is my water oak?
« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2017, 01:52:21 pm »
Welcome to the forum wpschamp!  Your pictures are loaded in your gallery, which is here: http://www.forestryforum.com/gallery/index.php?cat=46137

I have no expertise with aging your oaks, but I can point out that there is a sub-forum that can help you with posting pictures here: http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php/board,16.0.html

If you update your profile, or otherwise let folks know the region where you live that might help them in estimating the age. 

There is a helpful document on how to estimate at https://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/TreeAge_401065_7.pdf

A tree with a circumference of 14' has a diameter of about 54".  Allowing for bark, the radius of wood is about 26".  If your annual growth rings are 0.2 inches wide (example from that Michigan document) , that yields a tree around 130 years old.

The transplanted tree you describe has a radius of about 9".  if it gained 8" in 20 years, that means for that tree the average annual growth ring is 0.4 inches.  This is normal, as growth rings on young trees are much thicker than the growth rings of very mature trees.

This web site ( https://www.thoughtco.com/estimating-forest-trees-age-1343321 ) gives a rough factor to apply to the diameter.  Using the lowest one for Pin Oak, your 54" dbh tree may be about 160 years old.
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: how old is my water oak?
« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2017, 03:08:21 pm »
The thing to remember about tree growth is that girth is not an indicator of age. Height may perhaps get a close number if you go by growth tables that correlate with your soil type and species. I mean a terminal shoot, if not suppressed or over topped, will grow at an average rate for that species and site. It may be 1) fat: as open grown, or 2)skinny: as in a thicket. Same age, same height, same soil type. ;) It is most often easier on managed forest land to age a tree from past silviculture. Say and clear cut, where the clock is reset. Or simply from private records of the tree being kept since it was planted.

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

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