During the night of devastation wreaked by the nor’easter of October 27th, at around 1:30am, the magnificent Northern Red Oak neighboring Mandy Davis and Geoff Deckebach’s home on East Main Street came crashing to its demise. The tree was completely uprooted and toppled by the dangerously high winds. Fortunately, not a soul was harmed, including chickens in the coop, and bees in the hive. The tree fell dead to center between the main house and the little house; truly a miracle everyone was spared.
How to gauge (approximately) the age of an oak tree from the US Forest Service.
The most prolific oaks in the northeast are Northern Red Oaks (Querus rubra). The growth factor formula is slightly different for White, Black, and Pin Oaks.
Measure the circumference of the oak’s trunk at 54 inches up from the ground. For example, the tree that fell in Mandy and Geoff’s yard is 168 inches in circumference. Divide 168 inches by pi (3.14) to obtain the diameter. 168 divided by 3.14 equals 53.5. For a Red Oak, multiply the diameter by a growth factor of 4 to obtain the approximate age. Using this formula, we can approximate the age of the tree that was uprooted at 214 years old.
For a Pin Oak, the factor is 3 and for a White Oak, multiply the diameter by a growth factor of 5.
The tree may be even older than 214 years because a tree growing in a dense neighborhood or urban environment does not grow as fast as a tree in the forest. It’s fascinating to think that the tree was here when much of East Gloucester was pastureland and to imagine all the changes the magnificent old beauty had born witness to. Mandy shares that Geoff will be cutting through the trunk to count the rings, so it will be interesting to see how close the US Forest Service formula for aging an oak tree measures up to the actual rings counted.