Skip to main content
Biology LibreTexts

2.6: Instruments Used for Measuring Tree Height

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    A number of different instruments can be used to determine height. With the exception of the Biltmore stick, all work on the same principle of taking two slope readings. The scales in each instrument are just housed in a different setting.

    • Clinometer – as shown in Chapter 1
    • Relaskop—see section 3.3
    • Laser range finder/electronic hypsometer (these do the math for you!)
    • Biltmore stick hypsometer

    Though not commonly used, a Biltmore stick is an inexpensive tool for obtaining a rough estimate of tree height. It is based on the principle of similar triangles (Figure 2.14).


    Figure 2.14. A Biltmore stick is held 25” from the eye to measure tree height. Closing one eye, the bottom of the stick is placed at stump level. Without moving one’s head, tree height is read off the stick where the tree top crosses the stick. In most cases, purchased Biltmore sticks are marked with “logs” instead of feet, but it is easy to construct a stick with a variety of units.

    This page titled 2.6: Instruments Used for Measuring Tree Height is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Joan DeYoung (OpenOregon) .

    • Was this article helpful?