Getting to the heart of things…

Welcome to the Arboriginals bLOG…

We are pleased that you have dropped in to check us out. My name is Julie and I am the head cheerleader for our family’s venture and one of the chroniclers of our journey.  In this blog I hope to share some of the knowledge we think you should have if you are considering investing in an art-piece such as our furnishings. It is important to acknowledge that buying art is more often an emotional experience, but we think you should also be armed with some information that will help you select the piece that will also meet your funProduct photos by NLSWorks contactctional expectations. Plus some of this information is just plain fun to know! You can dazzle you friends with your arboreal wisdom 🙂

Let’s talk about how trees grow and how that process begins to play into the beautiful grains and designs we find in the wood.

Wood grows In layers that you can see by cutting across the longitudinal direction of a log. The pith is in the very center of the cross-section. It is often a different color than the surrounding heartwood. The next layers out from the heart wood is the sapwood. This layer carries nutrients and water throughout the tree. It is usually lighter than the heartwood. Approaching the outer rings of the tree are the living cells that make up the cambium layer. This is where new growth happens. When the tree goes into the colder months of the year, the cambium becomes dormant, causing the growth rings that are so distinctive and beautiful. And last, but not least, the outermost layer of the tree rings is the bark.

Tree rings: (with thanks to Dr. Zimmerman, and if this really fascinates you, I encourage you to visit the website referenced below.)

Western Red Cedar
Western Red Cedar

Each tree ring marks a line between the dark late wood that grew at the end of the previous year and the relatively pale early wood that grew at the start of this year. One annual ring is composed of both a ring of early wood and a ring of late wood.

  1. The growth occurs in the cambium (the thin, continuous sheath of cells between bark and wood). In spring, the cambium begins dividing. This creates new tissue and increases the diameter of the tree.
  2. Outside the cambium carries food produced in the leaves to the branches, trunk, and roots. Some of the ‘phloem’ dies each year and becomes part of the outer bark. The cells in the inner cambium (call xylem) show the most annual variation:
  • When a tree grows quickly, the xylem cells are large with thin walls. This early wood or ‘springwood’ is the lighter-colored part of a tree ring.
  • In late summer, growth slows; the walls of the xylem cells are thicker. This late wood or ‘summerwood’ is the darker-colored part of a tree ring.

Other interesting facts about tree rings:

  • Trees growing in moderate climates add one annual ring per year. By comparison, trees in tropical regions may have more than one growth ring per year, or may appear to grow continuously and have no rings.
  • Tree rings are easily seen in conifers (e.g., pine, spruce) and hardwoods (e.g., oak, ash).
  • Rings may be closely spaced or widely separated.
  • If spring starts early, the growing season is likely to be longer than usual, causing a tree to have a wider ring.
  • Lower springtime temperatures – A late spring is likely to shorten the growing season, causing a tree to have a narrower tree ring.
  • Abundant rainfall increases growth, producing a wider ring.
  • Drought decreases growth, producing a narrower ring.
  • Crowding from neighboring trees causes a series of narrow rings. 
  • If the rings are narrow on one side of a tree with wide rings on the other, the tree was crowded on the side of the tree where the rings are narrow.
  • A series of many narrow rings followed immediately by wide rings probably means that an encroaching neighbor died or was removed, releasing the crowded tree into a growth spurt.
  • Fire scars suggest past forest fires. The number of annual rings between fire scars shows the period between fires.
  • Scars due to insect plagues indicate damage, but can create beautiful color variation.

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