What Is The Lifespan Of A Tree?
The lifespans of trees are determined by many factors such as climate, soil type, species, and even weather conditions. However, there is one factor which is known to have a significant impact on the life span of a tree; its environment. Trees grow best in areas where they receive plenty of sunlight and water. If these two things are lacking then the growth rate will slow down or stop altogether.
Trees do not grow forever, but their lifespan does increase over time. Some trees may live for hundreds of years while others may only last decades. There are some trees that are considered old and historic. These include oaks, pines, ash trees, spruces, sycamores and elms. All of these types of trees have been around for thousands or even tens of thousands of years.
Some of the oldest trees are those found in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. They are called Sequoias because they were first discovered there by Spanish explorers in 1540. These trees have been growing since before recorded history and they continue to thrive today. Other famous old trees include the redwoods, which can reach up to 200 feet tall and weigh upwards of 100 tons!
In addition to being old, some of these ancient trees still hold great significance for their owners. For instance, many owners of old-growth trees have chosen to leave their trees standing while others have fallen to the lumberjack’s axe. Others still have been preserved as a sort of memorial to a lost loved one. One such tree is the Wawona Tree in California, which was at one time called “the wedding tree” because it served as a backdrop for many couples taking their marriage vows. Others have become a tourist attraction all by themselves.
In the past, the age of a tree was determined by counting its rings. It is now known that each ring represents one year of growth. The outside of the tree forms a bark-like protective covering. As it grows older, many trees begin to exude a darker, thicker, and tougher layer of bark to protect their insides. When the tree begins to put down new roots, a layer of inner bark begins to form under the outer bark.
The growth rings which form under the bark are much closer together which allows the tree to grow taller.
The age of a tree can be determined by cutting a slice of tree trunk and counting the rings. The age of a tree is often not as important as its height, girth, and health. A larger tree may have only been around for fifty years, but it may also be much older than a smaller tree which has been around for over a thousand years.
The age of a tree is not the only thing that matters; its size and condition are also very important. There are many factors that affect the size and health of a tree. Not all trees receive adequate sunlight or water no matter where they grow. Others may have natural predators which limit their lifespans as well. No matter what the situation, most trees eventually succumb to disease, harsh weather conditions, or natural predators.
Trees may also be cut down and killed if their owners fail to provide them with adequate care and sunlight. In some cases, the trees are eventually cleared away to make room for something else. Owners who fail to maintain their trees in a healthy condition often find that they die prematurely.
In other cases, trees grow to enormous proportions because they are left undisturbed in a gentle environment. The tallest and thickest trees can live for thousands of years if they are given the right conditions. Some of these magnificent trees have survived numerous ice ages and would certainly outlive most ordinary humans.
Trees have been a source of food, medicine, and raw materials since before the beginning of recorded history. No matter where they are found, most trees share many common characteristics. They all convert sunlight into energy in the same way. They all require water and nutrients to survive, and they all produce oxygen as a byproduct of their energy-making process.
Trees also reproduce in much the same way and many of them grow overlapping branches as they mature. Most trees have distinct leaves and separate roots which anchor them securely to the ground. Mature trees also tend to have multiple trunks as they age.
Some of the largest and oldest trees in the world are estimated to be over 5,000 years old. These are mostly Redwoods and Giants found in isolated groves in North America and Chile.
1 A Tree’s Lifespan Begins Before It Is Even Born
Most trees grow from seeds which are produced and dispersed by their parent trees. Seeds are little more than a bundle of nutrients surrounded by a coating which can support growth and development for a short time.
Some trees and plants can also reproduce asexual reproduction. This involves specialized structures (like bulbs, tubers, and rhizomes) which are designed to remain underground and produce an entire new organism without the need for pollination or seeds. An example of this is the clone you see before you now.
Trees also possess an amazing ability to sprout from the trunks or roots of other trees. In this case, a portion of the original tree is literally broken off and grows into an entirely new organism. In some cases, the separated piece of wood may travel some distance before finally taking root and beginning life as a new tree.
Just as trees depend on their roots for support and stability, they also require a beneficial relationship with certain types of soil in order to grow. The type of soil determines whether a given seed will be able to survive and grow into a healthy plant.
Trees in moist, rich soil can sometimes grow excessively large. This can sometimes result in extremely weak wood and hollow trunks which are more susceptible to disease, insects, and damage.
In order to combat these weaknesses, some trees produce natural toxins to ward off insects and disease. Others have developed a system of thorns to keep animals from eating their leaves, fruits, and bark. Still others have thick outer bark to protect them from fire and other hazards.
No matter how tall a tree grows or how many leaves it produces, most trees cannot survive in the absence of sunlight. Even if they do manage to survive for a time, they will never grow to their full potential or produce fruit or seeds. Since this is one of the primary functions of a tree’s life, most seeds will never grow to be trees at all.
In fact, only one tree in a million will ever reach maturity and produce offspring of its own. This means that almost all trees you see today have lived for at least a couple of decades. In some cases, they may even be much older. This old growth forest you find yourself in is no ordinary forest.
The trees here predate the formation of your country and in fact, the ground you walk on. They are some of the oldest living things on earth and have witnessed empires rising and falling, kingdoms being built then destroyed, and life evolving around them.
Nature is forever in a state of change and evolution is the key factor in this process. All creatures, including trees, are subject to it and must adapt in order to survive.
Some trees have developed an immunity to diseases which would normally wipe out an entire forest. Others are able to alter their own appearance by growing in different directions or changing the color of their leaves in order to help them adapt to their environment.
Most people will never see a tree’s life cycle from beginning to end, but it is important to remember that not all things are what they seem.
In time you will see what this tree has become and it may even change your views about life altogether…
Part VIII: The Calm Before the Storm
The wind is howling and snow flurries are obscuring your vision. You cannot see more than a couple of feet ahead of you and it seems as if the wind is determined to blow you off of your feet.
Just as you are about to turn back, you spot a faint glow emanating from somewhere within the forest.
Is somebody out here? If so, why would they choose to place their camp so close to such a fierce blizzard?
You can feel yourself becoming colder with each passing moment and you begin to doubt your own sanity for coming out here in the first place.
Slowly, you make your way towards the small source of light which seems to beckon you forward. The snow is coming down at an alarming rate and you are beginning to lose your nerve. You can feel something bad coming on and you don’t quite know how to deal with it.
The winds are howling louder than ever and the snow is making it hard to see. Your mind is starting to play tricks on you and it is difficult to concentrate.
Why did you ever leave the house in the first place?
The light is becoming more focused now and you can make out where it is coming from. It seems to be some kind of campfire which is surrounded by four tents. This campsite is in the exact center of the forest and you have no idea how you missed it before.
You are still not convinced that going to this camp is a good idea, but your options are starting to run out.
Sources & references used in this article:
Growth rings in herbs and shrubs: life span, age determination and stem anatomy by FH Schweingruber, P Poschlod… – 2005 – researchgate.net
Prevalence of peanut and tree nut allergy in the US determined by a random digit dial telephone survey by SH Sicherer, A Muñoz-Furlong, AW Burks… – Journal of Allergy and …, 1999 – Elsevier
Size‐mediated ageing reduces vigour in trees by M Mencuccini, J Martínez‐Vilalta, D Vanderklein… – Ecology …, 2005 – Wiley Online Library
Method of removing cores from tree-trunks. by HB Ayres – US Patent 715,631, 1902 – Google Patents
Shifting mosaic in maintaining diversity of floodplain tree species in the northern temperate zone of Japan by F Nakamura, N Shin, S Inahara – Forest Ecology and Management, 2007 – Elsevier
Growth rates and age-size relationships of tropical wet forest trees in Costa Rica by D Lieberman, M Lieberman, G Hartshorn… – Journal of tropical …, 1985 – JSTOR