Estimating Time Since Death Using Plant Roots and Stems

    Volume 32, Issue 5 (September 1987)

    ISSN: 0022-1198


    Published Online: 1 September 1987

    Page Count: 7

    Heilman, A
    Associate professor of botany, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

    Willey, P
    Assistant professor and curator of anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

    (Received 6 October 1986; accepted 2 December 1986)


    A number of methods have been used successfully in estimating time since death of long dead individuals, including physical decomposition of the corpse and clothing and the succession of insects. Using these sources, however, it is usually impossible to estimate accurately time since death for bodies which have been exposed more than a year. Roots and stems of perennial plants may be used as complementary sources of information. Stems and woody roots of perennial plants have annual growth rings which may be used to establish the minimum number of growing seasons since death. To be used, these plant parts must grow through the clothing, other personal effects, or bone or be affected indirectly by soil disturbance or body decomposition. Procedures for collecting, preserving, and examining these specimens and the limitations of the approach are presented.

    Paper ID: JFS11177J

    DOI: 10.1520/JFS11177J

    ASTM International
    is a member of CrossRef.

    Title Estimating Time Since Death Using Plant Roots and Stems
    Symposium , 0000-00-00
    Committee E30