In a cross section of the stem of a woody plant, the amount of wood added during a single growth period. In temperate regions this period is usually one year, in which case the growth ring may be called an annual ring. In tropical regions growth rings may not be discernible or are not annual. Even in temperate regions growth rings are occasionally missing; and sometimes a second, or false, ring may be deposited during a single year (e.g., following defoliation by insects). Nevertheless, annual rings have been used in dating ancient wooden structures, especially those of American Indians in the dry U.S. Southwest. Changes in ring width are a source of information about ancient climates.
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