The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research WSL

A giant in its infancy

Even a big tree starts small



When this innermost ring was formed around the year 1300, our larch was about 40 years old and 6 meters high. It stood at approximately 1,700 m above sea level above Blitzingen, a village in the Goms valley in the canton of Valais.

The larch was felled in September 1987. Since the lower part of its trunk was rotten, the forester took this cross section (or "disc") at a height of 6 meters above ground.

As a result, the tree rings formed in the early years of the tree's life are missing on this disc. Based on site-specific growth curves, scientists can still estimate the number of these initial tree rings and thus determine the germination year of a tree.

In this particular disc, WSL scientists estimated their number to be 40.