View Full Version : Help - Why only 'some' trees/forests on antique maps and user created maps?

11-29-2011, 02:32 PM
This has always puzzled me as I look at both antique map collections and user created maps. Do clumps of trees represent specific forests, or woods or what?

I used to think specific clumps of trees on a map represented forests like the "Cherokee National Forest" but that doesn't seem to make much sense on a map from the 1500s. It would seem there are huge tracts of lands covered in forests, so what is the motivation to only show 'some' trees on specific parts of a map?

I understand that different geographic areas have 'more' or 'less' forests, but on a map they often appear right next to each other.

Also, mountains are often covered in forests, but on a map they are not really represented this way.

I think I'm clearly misunderstanding the intent of the representation of "trees" on a hand drawn map.

Can anyone shed some light on this for me?

11-29-2011, 05:49 PM
My theory is that trees specifically represent forests, since individual trees are essentially ubiquitous in nature.

11-29-2011, 08:05 PM
So many trees and so little space available on most maps. Modern topographic maps show vegetation as gradations of color and maps from earlier times must have been limited by what they could accurately show and still have room for all the other important bits.

11-30-2011, 06:14 AM
This is a question of scale and proportion. If you take a look at current satellite imagery like Google Maps you will see, that you have to zoom a lot to actually distinguish individual trees. In some maps the symbols show what kind of forest to expect, pinales or leaved trees. So showing grouped or spaced trees shows 'there are forests in this area'
Today, as mentioned, forest areas are shown by areas of darker green shades - often with additional symbols...

11-30-2011, 09:21 AM
(Thread moved out of the WIP forum)

-Rob A>

11-30-2011, 09:32 AM
Thanks for all the input. I guess I'm still curious why some forests are 'notable' while others are not. More on antique hand drawn maps then today's high-tech maps.

11-30-2011, 11:08 AM
Notable is what is named...

12-16-2011, 07:13 AM
There is also another reason to represent small groups of trees : this is a way to show what kind of vegetation grows in these areas. In local maps (of islands, or a region), this is unimportant as you mostly see the same trees, but in world-wide maps, it can show where oaks, pines or baobas naturally grow, thus giving a whole sense to this feature.

12-16-2011, 08:21 AM
In the 1500s, trees may have been usable for navigation due to scale ... in a forested area where 6 to 24 inch diameter trees are common, one could have clusters of oaks 6 feet in diameter that blocked all light from reaching the ground. Such a cluster might be worth noting with a single tree symbol to distinguish it from the general 'woods' around it.