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#1
11-03-2006, 10:26 AM
 CC Charter Member Join Date: Apr 2000 Location: not elsewhere Posts: 4,305
How many leaves on an average tree?

Maybe this is a Fermi question, or maybe someone has some data someplace. But as I sit watching the leaves fall, and fall, and fall from the same tree, it seems endless. And I wonder if there's any way of knowing ABOUT how many leaves there are on, say, an average adult elm tree. I'm wondering even about orderss of magnitude. Are there, say, in the 10,000's? Or are we into 100,000's? I'm guessing the former, someplace, say, in the range of 250,000. But that's from just eyeballing a tree across the street, and making some terribly rough estimations from size of branches, number of branches and trunks, etc. Dopers?
#2
11-03-2006, 10:46 AM
 Ike Witt Charter Member Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Lost in the mists of time Posts: 13,587
I'm going to guess that there is no way to answer the question the way you have phrased it. You may have better luck asking how many leave does an average Oak or Elm have. That is still going to be tough to answer though.
#3
11-03-2006, 11:13 AM
 Q.E.D. Charter Member Join Date: Jan 2003 Location: Richmond, VA Posts: 22,536
Quote:
 Originally Posted by CC ...in the range of 250,000[,] ...from just eyeballing a tree across the street, and making some terribly rough estimations from size of branches, number of branches and trunks, etc.
That's probably about as good an answer as you're going to get. Of course, in the winter the answer is easy: zero.
#4
11-03-2006, 11:23 AM
 Polycarp Member Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: A better place to be Posts: 26,718
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Q.E.D. That's probably about as good an answer as you're going to get. Of course, in the winter the answer is easy: zero.
What, they don't have conifers where you live?
#5
11-03-2006, 12:26 PM
 Dinsdale Guest Join Date: May 2000 Posts: 16,850
I'm sure I've encountered estimates of this type of thing in the past, but can't call them to mind. I'm currently reading an excellent natural hisory of the Chicago region, and I'm not sure there would be any matter so obscure, minor, or apparently trivial that SOME biologist hasn't spent some time on it at sometime.
#6
11-03-2006, 12:39 PM
 Dinsdale Guest Join Date: May 2000 Posts: 16,850
From this site:

"It depends on the tree's species and age, but a mature, healthy tree can have 200,000 leaves."
#7
11-03-2006, 01:21 PM
 lieu Member Join Date: Aug 2001 Location: Bedrock Posts: 26,079
I just came back to post a link, only to see Dinsdale's posted the exact same one.

In looking for that, I did also come across an opinion that a mature pine tree will have around 7,000.
#8
11-03-2006, 01:33 PM
 Telemark Charter Member Join Date: Apr 2000 Location: Again, Titletown Posts: 20,541
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Polycarp What, they don't have conifers where you live?
Leaves or needles? Are needles classified as a form of leaf?
#9
11-03-2006, 02:25 PM
 Dinsdale Guest Join Date: May 2000 Posts: 16,850
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Telemark Leaves or needles? Are needles classified as a form of leaf?
Most definitely.
Same with cactus needles.
#10
11-03-2006, 02:28 PM
 Duckster Charter Member Join Date: Aug 2001 Posts: 14,527
Quote:
 Originally Posted by lieu In looking for that, I did also come across an opinion that a mature pine tree will have around 7,000.
What species of pine?

Quote:
 There are about 35 species of pine tree found throughout North America, particularly in the northern areas. In addition, a number of foreign trees, such as Scots pine and Austrian pine, have been introduced for commercial and ornamental purposes. Pines are evergreens with long, needle-shaped leaves.
Source: http://www.treehelp.com/trees/pine/index.asp
#11
11-03-2006, 06:42 PM
 Rigamarole Guest Join Date: Dec 2005 Location: Riverside, CA Posts: 12,099
3.

Oops, I'm in the wrong thread. I thought this was about Tootsie Pops. Sorry.
#12
11-03-2006, 07:57 PM
 spingears Guest Join Date: Jul 2003 Location: KNOXTN Posts: 4,334
Quote:
 Originally Posted by CC Maybe this is a Fermi question, or maybe someone has some data someplace. But as I sit watching the leaves fall, and fall, and fall from the same tree, it seems endless. And I wonder if there's any way of knowing ABOUT how many leaves there are on, say, an average adult elm tree. I'm wondering even about orderss of magnitude. Are there, say, in the 10,000's? Or are we into 100,000's? I'm guessing the former, someplace, say, in the range of 250,000. But that's from just eyeballing a tree across the street, and making some terribly rough estimations from size of branches, number of branches and trunks, etc. Dopers?
We spent the afternoon shredding the leaves from two large maples.
I'm not about to put all those tiny bits and pieces together to get a count of the leaves for my record book or anyone elses.
If this is of burning import to you by my guest and pull them off, count them, bag them, and .............whatever!
Substitute question: How many grains of sand in a bucket?
__________________
Do nothing simply if a way can be found to make it complex and wonderful
spingears
#13
11-03-2006, 08:07 PM
 Chez Guevara Guest Join Date: Aug 2001 Location: Gloucestershire, UK Posts: 3,970
Quote:
 Originally Posted by spingears If this is of burning import to you by my guest and pull them off, count them, bag them, and .............whatever!
Why don't you take the leaves to the OP? You could drive-by his house.
#14
11-03-2006, 09:20 PM
 CrankyAsAnOldMan Guest Join Date: Jun 2000 Location: Ann Arbor, MI Posts: 8,578
We can further complicate the question by pointing out that there are simple and compound leaves. With something like a honey locust, you may be counting leaflets and those will really add up.
#15
11-03-2006, 09:44 PM
 Polycarp Member Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: A better place to be Posts: 26,718
Quote:
 Originally Posted by CrankyAsAnOldMan We can further complicate the question by pointing out that there are simple and compound leaves. With something like a honey locust, you may be counting leaflets and those will really add up.
Good point. The trick there, though it sounds very much like the way to count cattle ("count the legs and divide by four") is to count petioles. These are the soft green stems that anchor the leaf (simple or compound) to the tree branch or twig. A compound leaf has only one petiole, even though it may have three, five, or twenty leaflets.
#16
11-04-2006, 12:56 AM
 kniz Guest Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: Pratts, Mississippi Posts: 6,246
It's been so long since I've posted regularly that I forget how to code this, but go to this site http://bellnetweb.brc.tamus.edu/res_...manyleaves.htm and it gives instructions on how to estimate the number of leaves on a tree. They make it sound simple, but unless it is a small tree there is no way in hell it is going to work.
#17
11-04-2006, 07:34 AM
 spingears Guest Join Date: Jul 2003 Location: KNOXTN Posts: 4,334
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Chez Guevara Why don't you take the leaves to the OP? You could drive-by his house.
Great suggestion. I'll bring my bags of shredded leaves, pick you up to act as navigator, we'll drive-by his house,
go to his house, you pull the leaves, I'll count 'em!
What time?
__________________
Do nothing simply if a way can be found to make it complex and wonderful
spingears
#18
11-04-2006, 11:46 AM
 glee Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Obama country Posts: 15,019
Couldn't you weigh the bags of leaves, subtract the weight of the bags, then weigh a few individual leaves to get an approximation of how much one leaf weighs and do a division?
#19
11-04-2006, 12:11 PM
 WhyNot Guest Join Date: Jul 2004 Location: Sweet Home Chicago Posts: 33,496
Quote:
 Originally Posted by glee Couldn't you weigh the bags of leaves, subtract the weight of the bags, then weigh a few individual leaves to get an approximation of how much one leaf weighs and do a division?
Oh, sure. Be all smart and stuff!

The problem being, of course, that not ALL the leaves fall off at once, and lots of them do blow away before the last leaf falls. Meanwhile, there are those other leaves from neighboring trees blowing willy-nilly into this tree's pile and just making a mess of the count.
#20
11-04-2006, 02:13 PM
 Crescend Guest Join Date: Oct 2004 Posts: 494
Quote:
 Originally Posted by WhyNot Oh, sure. Be all smart and stuff! The problem being, of course, that not ALL the leaves fall off at once, and lots of them do blow away before the last leaf falls. Meanwhile, there are those other leaves from neighboring trees blowing willy-nilly into this tree's pile and just making a mess of the count.
The key is, of course, to select a random sample of trees, completely denude them, and estimate the number of leaves per tree. This ought to give you both the average estimated number of leaves on a tree, and the variation within the population of trees.

Here's your tree-whackin' stick. Get whackin'!
#21
11-04-2006, 03:43 PM
 WhyNot Guest Join Date: Jul 2004 Location: Sweet Home Chicago Posts: 33,496
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Crescend The key is, of course, to select a random sample of trees, completely denude them, and estimate the number of leaves per tree. This ought to give you both the average estimated number of leaves on a tree, and the variation within the population of trees. Here's your tree-whackin' stick. Get whackin'!
Sounds like a job for a few unpaid interns!
#22
11-04-2006, 05:09 PM
 CC Charter Member Join Date: Apr 2000 Location: not elsewhere Posts: 4,305
Re: Glee

Actually, that's the type of botanical research I was wondering about - if anyone had done any studies like that. It's not such a terrible way to get a fairly good estimate. If one were to pick up the leaves from around a tree for several weeks and do such calculations, it might give one a general number that might be reliable. And maybe the number of leaves that blow away would be more or less offset by the ones from other trees that blow into the collecting area. If I were a botanist, or if I had the opportunity - and the leaf collecting facility - i.e. a grant that would cover the time and expenses, I'd think that would be a perfectly good way to generate some beginning numbers. Doing that with selected trees in a variety of conditions should help you derive SOME sort of number to work with. Not a bad idea, I think. Works for me.

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