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The "trunk" of a tree is really a stem, but it is the main
stem of a tree, and it holds up the tree. Here we have a
Christmas tree (or a log cut from a trunk, which has not been
split), and we're going to look at the end of it to see what
we can learn. As trees get older, their trunks get fatter at
the same time they get taller. See the circles (called
"rings") on the end of the trunk? They tell us some things
about the tree's growth. In some kinds of trees, you can
tell how old the tree is by counting the rings. This tree is
a fir tree, a kind of "conifer" (pronounced "con-if-fur"),
which means it bears cones to hold its seeds.

Conifers have rings that are easy to see. Each ring shows
one season of growth. Some rings are wider than others.
During the year that the wider rings were grown, the growing
season was a little longer than the year the narrow rings
grew. When the narrow rings grew, the winter was very cold
and the next summer was very dry. That makes a short growing
season. Conifers grow very slowly while the weather is cold,
and faster when it is warm. You can tell this by the
different colors inside each ring.

Do you see that one side of the trunk has wider rings than
the other side? That means that the tree grew on a hillside.
The side of wider rings grew on the downhill slope, and the
side of narrow rings was on the uphill slope.

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