If you’ve ever wondered how long trees live, let’s just say that it all depends. That’s because many factors can play into a tree’s lifespan, including the species of trees. Another factor affecting longevity is where the trees grew and planted in an urban environment or a forest setting. Let’s find out here:
The Lifespan of a Tree
The most significant contributing factor to a tree’s lifespan is the species. For example, a redwood tree can live for hundreds of years. On the other hand, the average lifespan of a Norway maple is only about 30 years. In addition to the species, other factors can affect the longevity of a tree, including:
- Age: The older the tree, the longer it will live.
- Time of year: Most of the northern hemisphere’s native trees leaf out in the spring and shed their leaves in the fall. They do the opposite in the southern hemisphere.
- Water: An abundance of water can help trees live longer, while water deprivation can kill trees within a few weeks.
- Temperature: Cold temperatures can kill a tree, but most trees can survive even in the most bitter winters.
- Wood quality: Wood that’s been attacked by various insects or infested with rot will deteriorate more quickly than wood without those problems.
- Fertilizer: Trees that are fertilized are usually healthier and, as a result, more likely to live longer.
- Appearance: A tree’s appearance can also affect how long it lives. The more attractive a tree is, the longer it will live.
- Oxygen: Trees need oxygen to live. If they don’t get enough of the gas, they’ll die.
- Target of disease: Trees with a sound defense system can live longer than trees without a defense.
- Location: The location where a tree is planted can greatly impact its overall lifespan. For example, a tree planted in the shade will live longer than a tree placed in direct sunlight.
How to Determine the Age of the Tree
Remember that the tree species will dictate just how old it can get. To determine the age of a tree, you must count the number of growth rings it has. There are two ways to do this, but the easiest is to look for the end bud on the tree’s trunk. This is the area where the tree’s annual growth rings begin.
Count the rings from that point to the thickest part of the trunk. Once you’ve done that, you can determine the tree’s age.
If you’re more interested in determining the age of a tree than its lifespan, the following is a simple method for determining the tree’s age:
- Count the number of concentric rings in a cross section of the tree’s trunk.
- The number of rings will vary, depending on the height of the tree. Once you’ve counted the rings, how old is the tree?
- Simply add the number of rings (from your first step) to the number of years that have passed since the tree was last cut.
Let’s say you counted 12 concentric rings, and the last time the tree was cut was five years ago. If the tree were a Common Lombardy Poplar, it would be 17 years old, minus the year it was cut.
In a Nutshell
If you’ve ever wondered how long a tree lives, the answer may surprise you. It all depends on various factors, including the species of the tree. To find out how long a tree will live, you’ll need to consider a variety of factors, including the tree’s age and the conditions in which it lives. Use the method described above to help you determine the age of a tree, and then use the information to estimate the tree’s lifespan.
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