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Counting the leaves on a tree - model of solar "panel" surface area

03/05/2009 10:23 AM

I have been trying to figure out how I can count or estimate the number of leaves on a tree in order to determine the "solar panel" surface area that would be equivalent. (I know there will be other factors, to calculate in, such as what percent are perpendicular (and all the other angles) to the sun's rays at any time, and for how long, and also that many leaves are shaded by leaves further out, but I think my first step has to be, to estimate, including actuallu counting some portion of the leaves and then getting an average of surface area per leaf and other calculations.) I've tried photographing the tree and using that. I want to figure this count procedure out now as when leaves are just budding, or still quite small, may hold some usefulness, for the process. The tree needn't be full grown by any means, perhaps only 10 or 12 feet. On the other hand, is there any logic to saying given a tree with 3,000 leaves, how tall wide, etc is it? and work backwards. Weighing the leaves also a consideration, how might that work ? Is there a model for surface area of leaves on a tree ?

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#1

Re: Counting the leaves on a tree - model of solar "panel" surface area

03/05/2009 12:55 PM

Must be something in the water lately

I would think given the conditions you point out (orientation, shading, leaf size) that I would perhaps instead estimate the area of solar capture as a whole, so use the standard sols per square foot for your area and then measure the shadow of the total tree leaf area?

It will not tell you how many leaves of what size are actually intercepting solar radiation, but would instead tell you what solar radiation is available to the tree.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Counting the leaves on a tree - model of solar "panel" surface area

03/05/2009 1:23 PM

That's a very good point. However, in nature there is usually over production to secure sufficiency, so I would still like to know how many leaves, and what might be a practical method to find this out. Thanks though. You can be sure that will also be a measurement I would calculate. hn

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#3

Re: Counting the leaves on a tree - model of solar "panel" surface area

03/05/2009 3:49 PM

Wait until full growth, spread tarps, pluck all the leaves. Measure whatever you want?

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#4

Re: Counting the leaves on a tree - model of solar "panel" surface area

03/05/2009 6:16 PM

Just Leaf it to Beaver !

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#5

Re: Counting the leaves on a tree - model of solar "panel" surface area

03/06/2009 4:42 AM

Interesting Q...I dunno the A, but I rate Edignans as a GA.
I shall curl up and ponder on it...
Del

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Counting the leaves on a tree - model of solar "panel" surface area

03/06/2009 10:40 AM

Yes, it is a useful answer, but I didn't give it a GA because he changed my question, rather than answer exactly what was asked. Perhaps it's a different mindset. I hope you can come up with a real stroke of insight in your ponderings. Thanks hn

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#7
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Re: Counting the leaves on a tree - model of solar "panel" surface area

03/06/2009 11:01 AM

do it the same way as estimating big numbers of anything.
View the tree (preferably a smallish one with accesible leaves) through a square aperture, esipmate how many of these squares make up the whole area of the tree (maybe view it as 2 dimensional to start with). Then estimate how many leaves in one square (you can see now that getting a suitable square size is the key).
Do the arithmetic.
I wouldn't be surprized if the leaves of (some) trees actually track the sun.
Review the result, add in factors for the tree being 3D by careful use of maths, or guess work, then send me a can of Tuna.
Del

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#8
In reply to #6

Re: Counting the leaves on a tree - model of solar "panel" surface area

03/06/2009 1:47 PM

Sorry, been a customer engineer too long.

Don't like the question, change it before giving a full and complete answer to what you do want to talk about.

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#9

Re: Counting the leaves on a tree - model of solar "panel" surface area

04/08/2009 11:03 PM

If you are serious, you need to consider the density of the leaves, it could be possible for a leaf to be 'productive' in the shadow of another leaf. Even on one tree, leaves are different sizes depending on its micro-climate and location on the tree.

To really count the leaves, at the end of the growing season, wrap the tree in a large net, capture the leaves and count them.

Formulas for pine trees would be different than for palms, or oaks, or trees with kudzu climbing all over them. Also different for leeward vs windward sides of mountains or hills, etc etc etc, you get the drift.

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