White Pine And Hemlock

How old is this forest?

The tallest, biggest, and perhaps oldest tree here is this white pine by the signpost. It can be difficult to tell the age of a tree just by looking at it, since growth can vary greatly based on tree species and site conditions. One way to estimate a tree’s age is to measure its circumference (in inches and at the height you would hug the tree), divide by pi ( =3.14), and multiply that result by the species’ growth factor. This white pine’s circumference is 72 inches, and its growth factor is 5. Did you calculate over 100 years old?

Colossal white pines have been a valuable lumber resource ever since colonial times. In the late 1600s, the British King claimed ownership of the largest white pines in New England and directed surveyors to mark these trees with three slash marks – the King’s Broad Arrow. Disagreements between colonists, who wanted to use pine lumber for building, and British officials, authorized to supply Royal Navy shipbuilders with lumber for tall masts, led to a pre-Revolutionary War clash called The Pine Tree Riot.

Beneath the sun-loving, fast-growing white pines here, you’ll also see shade-tolerant, slower-growing hemlocks. The short-needled, evergreen foliage of hemlock trees provides dense, cooling shade in warm months and protective cover for wildlife all year long. White-tailed deer often bed down under hemlock branches. Small seeds from hemlock cones also offer food for a variety of birds and small mammals.


Tree Age Calculator

“The King’s Broad Arrow and Eastern White Pine”
New England Lumber Manufacturers Association

Habitat Stewardship Series: Hemlock-Hardwood-Pine Forest
UNH Cooperative Extension