Monday, 5 July 2010

news about trees

My new equal favourite tree (with the Atlas Ceders that fill Kew Gardens, which aren't run by fools) is the Alerce. It's very much its own tree, the only species in its genus, and is also known as the Fitzroya, from its Latin name Fitztroya cupressoides. You will guess, and be right, that it was named for Robert FitzRoy, the captain of Darwin's Beagle who later regretted terribly his accidental place in the promulgation of evolutionary theory, set up the Met Office (these last two facts not connected) and gave his name, recently, to the Shipping Forecast sea area formerly known as Finisterre (these last two facts connected).

Anyway, the alerce is a very large South American tree. It grows into the 70s of metres (Britain's tallest fir is 64m) but I am not so interested in that as I am to learn that in 1993 a Chilean alerce was confirmed as having been 3622 years old. This is the second-oldest confirmed age of a tree, though various living ones, yews included, might be older. An alerce looks like this*:

The old ones tend to have big trunks. But, you are wondering, how do you measure the trunk of a tree when you are assaying its value for timber? A good question. You don't use the measurement at floor level, with all those buttresses. That would be crazy. You use the dbh.** A dbh of 14 inches equates to a value of something like $3,400. If the dbh is 30 inches then, as you can see, we're talking more like $15,500. My record on the wisdom of investing in timber is clear.

* I mean 'some alerces look like this'
** Diameter at breast height. Some people use this for measuring other things

1 comment:

Holly said...

Well, who'd have thought it?