A simple, quick, and inexpensive technique to improve visualization of aspen (Populus tremuloides) tree rings under the microscope, the ‘shadow technique’, is described. The technique assumes appropriate preparation of increment cores or cross-sections and works well on the lighter portions of the sample with fungus- and bacteria-free wood. The shadow technique was used successfully to elucidate tree-ring boundaries in small diameter (,5 cm DBH) aspen from northern Utah that commonly had .100 annual rings. Crossdating verified whether the elusive rings were missing or false rings. Aspen tree-ring measurement will be greatly enhanced with the shadow technique and preliminary investigation suggests it could be used on other species such as curlleaf mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius).
DeRose, R. Justin and Gardner, Richard S., "Technique to improve visulization of elusive tree-ring boundaries in aspen (Populus tremuloides)" (2010). Aspen Bibliography. Paper 3475.