The temporal and spatial patterns of tree establishment and stand disturbance history are often based on the interpretation of age-class frequency distributions. In particular, the presence of even-aged groups of trees is often used as compelling evidence of past disturbance. However, even-aged groups of trees may be indistinguishable in an age distribution if several different-aged patches occur, especially if their ages overlap. For two different types of forest we used spatial autocorrelation analysis to statistically test for the presence of even-aged patches in tree age data. Ordination and cluster analysis were subsequently applied to a matrix of association measures that reflected both spatial proximity and age similarity to identify even-aged groups of trees. Although the method worked well for our forests, which contained light-demanding tree species, it is likely to be less applicable to forests dominated by shade-tolerant species, because trees may be of many different ages if they were present as suppressed individuals prior to disturbance. However, in these instances the method could be usefully applied in other types of analysis, such as the distribution of growth release dates, tree-fall or fire-scar dates, and growth rates.