The life of a tree is controlled by the cambium layer of the tree. This micro thin layer is located inside of the outer and inner bark of the tree. This is the layer where all the nutrients flow to keep the tree alive and growing.
Each year, the tree adds one layer (ring) to its girth which is a means of aging the tree by counting the rings.
When the tree is bent at a young age, the cambium layer on the underside of the bent section is crushed. Likewise, the cambium layer on the upper side of the bent section is stretched. These impacts on the cambium layer cause the nutrients to have a harder time flowing unrestricted to the tree and thus, the tree growth is stunted.
From that point on, the tree grows much slower and the tree rings are very close together. As a result, a bent tree can be half the diameter of a normal tree and still be the same age.
Indian Trail Tree Project Resources
Watch a video on how to evaluate an Indian Marker Tree.
Typically, Marker Trees can be two feet in diameter and be over 150 to 200 years old. We have more in-depth information here.