Tree Notes is about trees -- especially native trees, trees for wildlife, and trees in history.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

How Fast Will My Tree Grow?

Typical growth rates may not hold true .


Ponderosa pine needles
(2 or 3 per bundle) and cone
The growth rate of an individual tree will depend upon its individual circumstances, even though as a species, general predictions can be made.

I read an extreme illustration of this fact in the October, 2001, Nebraskaland magazine (Volume 79, Number 8). The article, "How Nebraska Has Changed" by James Stubbendieck, showed vintage photographs and modern photographs of the same scenes. In a comparison of two photographs of Harrisburg in western Nebraska, the author comments,

"The ponderosa pines on top of the butte have had limited growth. One of the pair of trees on the left side of the 1911 photograph remains alive, while both trees on the right side of the photograph are still living. One tree is about 12 inches tall in the 1911 photograph... It is growing in a crack in the rocks and the lack of moisture and nutrients available has resulted in the tree growing only an additional 18 inches in 87 years."

Another "Tree Note"As a general rule, the ponderosa pine would grow to 75 feet in height, perhaps even 100 feet, and its spread at the crown might be 50 to 75 feet. However, the stress of this particular ponderosa's extreme circumstances has dramatically stunted its growth and will probably also dramatically shorten its life!

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Enrich your life with the study of trees.

"The power to recognize trees at a glance without examining their leaves or flowers or fruit as they are seen, for example, from the car-window during a railroad journey, can only be acquired by studying them as they grow under all possible conditions over wide areas of territory. Such an attainment may not have much practical value, but once acquired it gives to the possessor a good deal of pleasure which is denied to less fortunate travelers."

Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927)

Print references I frequently consult

Benvie, Sam. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2000.

Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Ed. Herbert S. Zim. New York: Golden, 1986.

Cliburn, Jerry, and Ginny Clomps. A Key to Missouri Trees in Winter: An Identification Guide. Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, 1980.

Collingwood, G. H., Warren David Brush, and Devereux Butcher. Knowing Your Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1978.

Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 1997.

Elias, Thomas S. The Complete Trees of North America; Field Guide and Natural History. New York: Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, 1980.

Grimm, William Carey. The Book of Trees;. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1962.

Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: a Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.

Little, Elbert L. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. New York: Chanticleer, 1996.

Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants. New York: McGraw Hill, 1951.

Mitchell, Alan F., and David More. The Trees of North America. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications, 1987.

Randall, Charles E. Enjoying Our Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1969.

Settergren, Carl D., and R. E. McDermott. Trees of Missouri. Columbia: University Extension, 1995.

Sternberg, Guy, and James W. Wilson. Native Trees for North American Landscapes: from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Portland: Timber, 2004.

Wharton, Mary E., and Roger W. Barbour. Trees and Shrubs of Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1973.

Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

Photos and text copyright © 2006-2010 by Genevieve L. Netz. All rights reserved. Do not republish without written permission. My e-mail address is gnetz51@gmail.com