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How Old are Tropical Trees? the Persistence of a Myth

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The recent report of ancient trees in the Amazon region (Chambers et al. 1998) with a maximum radiocarbon dated age of about 1400 years for the long-living pioneer species Cariniana micrantha is discussed in the light of dendrochronological age determinations from Africa and South America together with the results of indirect age estimations from other sources. There is a tendency in the literature to considerably overestimate the maximum ages of tropical trees. Age determination by the direct counting of annual rings and making estimations for hollow trees by measuring growth rates and diameters result in ages between 400 and 500 years for the largest trunk dimensions, e.g. in Cariniana legalis.


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