Tree rings provide a wealth of information about not only a tree but the world in which it grew up in. The rule of thumb for a tree ring is that there is one ring for each year of the tree’s life, which is also why the rings are known as annual rings. Chances are you have seen them on a tree that has been cut down or even on your reclaimed antique wood floor from Aged Woods.

Tree rings are typically more pronounced in trees found in more temperate climates or in climates that observe all four seasons. Rings are formed as a result of new growth in the vascular cambium, a layer of cells near the bark. The inner layer of wood is known as springwood or earlywood and the outer part as latewood or summerwood. The rings provide a glimpse at the climatic conditions that the tree experienced. Oak trees are the most reliable as it is believed that the tree rings are recorded every year. Birch and willow trees however are not as reliable as their growth cycles are erratic.

Colder temperatures or a lack of moisture produce a denser wood, or less space between the rings. Warmer and wetter temperatures produce a wider ring. Climatic events like drought or a harsh winter also produce different color shades of the wood. It is also possible in years when there are weather extremes like a drought in the middle of a summer to produce multiple rings in a year.

The process of dating a tree by using its rings is known as Dendrochronology. The science dates back to Ancient Greece when the Greek botanist Theophrastus discovered that trees have rings. Leonardo da Vinci was the first to postulate that the rings grew annually and their growth was tied to the local climate. Core samples are taken from living trees to build up a history and other trees in the area are checked to see if the rings are consistent. This technique was used in tandem with radiocarbon to date an 8,500 year bristlecone pine in the White Mountains of California and both produced the same result. Using modern science it is possible to date nearly any piece of wood and place where it came from on the Earth using its tree rings as chronologies have been developed for locales all over the world.

So have a look at your reclaimed antique hardwood floor. What can it tell you?