In Colorado’s Front Range, restoring fire-dependent ponderosa forests is a management priority often informed by understanding the historical structure and ecological function of these forests. Retention of old ponderosa pine trees within restored stands provides forests with a diversity of age structure, genetics, and resilience to low to moderate severity wildfires.

Ponderosa pine trees reveal their ages through several morphological characteristics that change over their potentially long lives. A tree with dark, rough bark that’s paired with a pointed crown with small branches means it’s likely less than 150 years old. A tree with orange, smooth bark and a flattened crown and large branches is likely older than 150 years. But why is a tree’s diameter, an obvious morphological characteristic, not as useful to determine its age? It’s a common assumption that the larger the tree, the older it is. Read more…

U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station
January 2020 | Science You Can Use (in 5 minutes)

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