How to Calculate the Weight of a Tree

How to Calculate the Weight of a Tree

Have you ever wondered how can anyone measure the weight of a tree when it is stuck on the ground? Can you measure its weight without uprooting it? 

This article will guide you and explore how heavy trees are, how to measure them, and the different factors affecting their weight.

How much do trees generally weigh?

How much do trees generally weigh
Image: Bali Safari

Trees generally weigh between 1,000 to 2 million pounds, depending on factors like the tree’s diameter, height, and volume, among others. 

For instance, an 80-foot tall tree can weigh 20,000 pounds while a 50-foot pine tree can weigh 2,000 pounds. 

How much do common types of trees weigh?

How much do common types of trees weigh
Image: The Nature Conservancy

Here are the most common types of trees and their weight measured in pounds. 

For this table, we used green weight which pertains to the mass of a tree when it is alive. It includes the wood content and moisture inside the tree. 

Type of TreeGreen Weight (pounds)
Maple tree4,685
Pine tree2,780
Oak tree5,573
Ironwood tree4,590
Cottonwood tree4,640
Apple tree4,850
Willow tree4,320
Elm tree4,456
Fir tree3,585
Red Cedar tree2,959
Hackberry tree3,984
Ash tree4,184
Birch tree4,312
Basswood tree4,404
Hickory tree5,032

What are the factors affecting the weight of a tree?

The factors affecting the weight of a tree are height, diameter and circumference, volume, density, leaves, type of wood, and season.

Let’s now take a look at each of these factors and how they affect the weight of a tree. 

Height

Height
Image: Cory Zirbel on South Dakota’s Conservation Districts

The height is directly correlated to the weight of the tree. The taller the tree, the more they weigh. 

For instance, hardwood trees that stand 80 feet tall weigh 20,000 pounds while a 50-foot pine tree with a 12-inch diameter weighs only 2,000 pounds (907 kg). 

But this rule is not absolute. There also exists shorter trees with a wider circumference (like the cypress tree at 32 pounds) that are heavier than tall trees which measure less in diameter (like a eucalyptus tree at 30 pounds). 

Diameter and Circumference

Diameter and Circumference
Image: Forestry Invitational

The diameter of a tree is measured by the circumference of the breast height. The breast height is measured at 55 inches from the ground while the circumference is the curve length of the tree.

So, to find the diameter of the tree, wrap a tape measure around the curve length of the tree at about 55 inches from the ground. 

After getting the circumference, you can now calculate using this formula:

Diameter = circumference / π (or 3.14159)

Similar to height, a tree’s diameter is directly correlated with its weight. So when its diameter increases, the tree’s weight increases, and vice versa. 

The average weight of a tree with 10 to 15 inches in diameter is 45 up to 55 pounds. 

Volume

Volume
Image: Northern Woodlands

Volume is also directly proportional to the weight of the tree. As it increases, the weight of a tree follows. 

The volume is a key component in the formula for calculating the weight of the tree which we will discuss below. 

Take note that only the volume of the trunk is measured since there is a high level of uncertainty if the volume of branches is to be calculated. 

Hardwood vs. Softwood

Hardwood vs. Softwood
Image: Wonderopolis

Hardwood trees are heavier than softwood trees. 

Hardwood trees usually produce thick cell walls and seeds with a coating that develops into nuts or fruits. On the other hand, softwood trees have thin cell walls and seeds that have no coating and simply drop on the floor. 

Because of their differences, one can see that hardwood trees are heavier because their structure makes them denser than softwood trees. 

A hardwood tree with 12 inches in diameter weighs around 1,500 pounds while one with 26 inches in diameter weighs almost three times more – 8,400 pounds.

For example, hardwood beech trees weigh 45 pounds while softwood cypress trees weigh 32 pounds. 

Density

Tree density pertains to the amount or percentage of land covered by a tree. The most common way to measure tree density is through its canopy cover. 

The density of the tree also affects its weight of the tree directly. As it increases, the weight increases as well. 

Tree Density Chart

Type of TreeDensity (pounds)
White Pine22 – 31
White Ash40 – 53
Red Cedar23
Walnut40 – 43
Sycamore24 – 37
Sweetgum33 – 37
Oak37 – 56
Maple39 – 47
Hickory37 – 58
Dogwood47
Cypress32
Cottonwood25
Chestnut30
Birch42
Beech32 – 56
Aspen26
American Redwood28
American Elm35

Leaves

Leaves
Image: Raffia Palm by Marcos Rosa on Inhotim

The more leaves a tree has, the heavier it becomes, and vice versa. 

Here’s how to calculate the weight of leaves:

  1. Get a sample. Collect, count, and weigh a sample of leaves from the tree.
  2. Look for a benchmark. Determine the total number of leaves in the tree by searching the internet. 
  3. Combine your data. Multiply the number of leaves in your sample by the total number that you got from the internet.

This should give you a proper estimate of the weight of leaves from your subject tree. 

For instance, an average mature oak tree has around 200,000 leaves with dry leaves weight one pound. Therefore, a mature oak tree has an estimated total of 550 pounds of the total weight in leaves. 

The larger the leaves, like in banana and coconut trees, the heavier the tree becomes. 

The Raffia Palm (Raphia regalis) species have the largest and heaviest leaves in the world. A leaf from these tree species span up to 80 feet tall and 10 meters wide. 

Season

Season
Image: The Spruce

Due to the different seasons in a year, a tree will have varying amounts of water and moisture in it. A tree will weigh less during a drought due to less water that it can absorb from the soil. 

On the other hand, deciduous trees produce sugar and energy, causing them to weigh more by the end of the winter season. During fall, deciduous trees weigh less due to the loss of leaves.

How do you calculate the weight of a tree?

How do you calculate the weight of a tree
Image: Mass.gov

The formula for calculating the weight of a tree is: 

Weight of a tree = ( density x volume ) + weight of leaves.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Measure the diameter by getting the circumference at the breast height or 55 inches above the ground. 
  2. Measure the height of the tree.
  3. Find the volume and density of the tree.
  4. Multiply density by the volume of the tree. 
  5. Add the estimated weight of the leaves.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the heaviest part of a tree?

The heartwood is the heaviest part of a tree. It is the densest and darkest part of the trunk. 
The heartwood contains inactive xylem cells which give support to the tree and store sugars, dyes, and oils. 

What tree has the thickest bark?

Giant sequoia trees have the thickest bark in the world. At its base, the outer layer of its bark measures more than 2 feet in thickness. 

Which tree has a thick trunk?

Mexican cypress trees have the thickest trunk in the world. Its trunk measures 38 feet in diameter and 119 feet in circumference.
Baobab trees are native to Australia, Africa, and India. 

Which tree has the heaviest wood?

Black Ironwood is the heaviest wood in the world, weighing 84.5 pounds per cubic foot (1,355 cubic meters). 

How heavy is a large oak tree?

A large oak tree weighs 14,385 kg. Its total branchwood weighs more than the tree’s stem, or 8,349 kg, 58% of its total weight.

What is the heaviest tree in the world?

The heaviest tree in the world is the “General Sherman”, a giant sequoia tree weighing around 2.7 million pounds (1.9 million kg or  6,167 tons), with a volume of 1,487 cubic meters, and stands over 300 feet tall.
It is found at the Sequoia National Park in Tulare County, California, USA. 
Giant sequoia trees, coming from the species Sequoiadendron giganteum, usually grow 250 feet tall and 30 feet wide. 

What is the lightest tree in the world?

The Balsa tree (Ochroma pyramidale) is the lightest tree in the world. It is known as the softest and most commercially-sold wood used in model airplanes, buoys, life rafts, and even surfboards. 
It is an evergreen tree with smooth grey bark and stands around 40 meters high. 

What is the tallest tree in the world?

The tallest tree in the world is the “Hyperion” (Sequoia sempervirnes) standing 380 feet tall. It is located in Redwood National Park in California, USA. 

How many pine trees make a ton? 

One-fourth of an average pine tree weighs a ton or 1,000 pounds. This is based on the weight of an average mature pine tree which is 4,400 pounds (2,000 kg).
On the other hand, a 100-foot pine tree with a 30-inch diameter weighs 18,500 pounds (8,391 kg)

How much does a dead tree weigh?

A dead tree weighs the same as when it was alive minus the weight of the tree and water content. 
After the death of the tree, its leaves and branches are bound to shed and drop to the ground. Further, dead trees are incapable of absorbing water which contributes to the drop in their overall weight.
For instance, a red oak tree that weighed 60 pounds when it was alive, will weigh 45 pounds as a dead tree. 

What is the weight of a tree log?

Below is a table summarizing the weight of a one-foot log with 10-inch diameter based on certain types of trees:

Weight of a one-foot log with 10-inch diameter

White pine tree20 pounds (9 kg)
Pecan tree33 pounds (15 kg)
Oak tree40 pounds (18 kg)
Maple tree25 pounds (11 kg)
Beech tree29 pounds (13 kg)
Apple tree30 pounds
White ash tree26 pounds
Paper Birch tree27 pounds
Chesnut tree30 pounds
Cottonwood tree27 pounds
American Elm tree29 pounds
Evergreen Magnolia tree32 pounds
Red Maple tree27 pounds
Sugar Maple tree31 pounds
Sycamore tree28 pounds
Source: Sherill Tree

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