28 January 2015

Trees dead for 500 years - but not decayed

“We were gathering samples of dead trees to reconstruct summer temperatures in western Norway, when our dendrochronological dating showed the wood to be much older than expected”, says Terje Thun, an associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) Museum of Natural History and Archaeology...

Thun says that when a pine tree dies, it secretes a great deal of resin, which deters the microorganisms needed for decomposition. “Nevertheless, preventing the natural breakdown of the wood for centuries is quite a feat”, he says...
Resin was one of the ingredients used in Ancient Egypt for mummification, so its conservation abilities have been known for millennia. However, that trees could “self-mummify” in such a humid climate for centuries was new to the NTNU scientists.
“Many of the trunks we dated turned out to have seeded in the early 1200s, and had lived for more than 100 years at the time of the Black Death around 1350”, Thun says. “That means that the dead wood has ‘survived’ in nature for more than 800 years without breaking down.”
More at the link. The tree in the photo grew began growing in 1334, and died in 1513!  
Reposted from 2009.  Photo credit: Terje Thun, NTNU.


  1. I live in south Georgia and any self respecting Southerner knows that fat lighter is essential kindling for a good fire. It lights easily and burns hot and for a long time. You can usually get a good fire started with green wood or damp wood if you have enough of it, but you usually only need a few small pieces to get the job done. Good stuff indeed! the only problem is that a lot of really old homes and structures around here are built out of the stuff so if it ever catches a spark there's NO WAY to put it out! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatwood

    1. When I was a child and our family used to vacation in the north woods, I would go with my mom through the woods to find pine knots in old windfall. I think we used them partly for kindling, but mostly for the fragrance in the fireplace. The bonus was finding grubs in the deadwood to use for bait.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...