Thread: tree life expectancy

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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Central Indiana

    RE: tree life expectancy

    I don't know about Japanese cedar. Maybe some conifers can be coppiced?

  2. #12
    Join Date
    May 2008
    cottageville, south carolina

    RE: tree life expectancy

    my property, which is mostly swamp, was clearcut before i bought it, i'd say 12-15 years ago. the trees are mostly 20-40' tall now. the oaks in the swamp are all laurel oak and none of them produce acorns yet, but i have a ton of water oaks near the house that do produce acorns even though many are only 2-3" in diameter and maybe 15-25' tall. i guess water oaks mature quicker. (and die sooner)

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Central Indiana

    RE: tree life expectancy

    Oaks can produce acorns at very early ages. In fact, some hybrids have been developed for just that purpose. A thread on here somewhere in the past year discussed someone finding acorns on a very young, very small oak.

    Does early fruiting necessarily mean a shorter life expectancy? I ask that for other species than just the water oaks.

  4. #14
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Re: RE: tree life expectancy

    Quote Originally Posted by IhateSuburbanSprawl
    I don't know about Japanese cedar. Maybe some conifers can be coppiced?
    I've never seen any cedar or pine grow back from the roots

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Ogdensburg, NY

    RE: tree life expectancy

    I don't know, but I'm sick of the ones growing out of the stump in my front yard.

    And the ones that keep growing around my neighbor's lilac bush. I must have torn fifty boxelders out from a stump that wrapped itself around the base of part of her lilac bush. Poor thing was getting choked by them.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Central Indiana

    RE: tree life expectancy

    You have cedars growing back from a stump?

  7. #17

    RE: tree life expectancy

    Root suckers are similar to a new tree from seed, they can live as long as the parent, as long as they don't become diseased from the dead parent tree or from trees around (which happens many times). Also a tree from a sucker could blow over more easily being usually more weaker rooted than trees from a seed. Same as with cuttings (likely much stronger than suckers) that are rooted (eg. poplars and willows) many willows and poplars living today are hundreds and even thousands of years old, but that's only the genetics in the cells that are that age, not the trees planted in recent years). And example would be if you rooted a cutting off a 500 year old poplar, you could say the genetics of your new poplar is 500 years old but the cutting you planted would only be around 1 or 2 years old (at least that is what I think is to be said).

    To this day sprouts from large American Chestnut trees that where killed 50+ years ago continue to grow from roots until killed back to the ground all over again when they reach a certain size usually around the age they start to make flowers. They die back and regrow over and over.

    The most crucial thing to the longevity of a tree is its size as explained below (and of course resistance to diseases, pests, any other hard stresses etc. etc..

    Here is a good article I've posted before about tree ageing:

    "To live long, a tree must stay small.

    Old age is not the problem for plants that it is for animals. Being modular, plants can grow new limbs when old ones die off. More crucial to the longevity of a tree is its size. A tree reaches a stage when it cannot get taller, owing mainly to the difficulties of bringing water up from the roots, and when its side branches cannot grow longer, because they are too expensive to support. So the number of leaves a tree holds becomes more or less fixed, and this means that the tree's ability to produce food--the sugar made in leaves by photosynthesis--also levels off.

    Yet each year the tree adds a new layer of wood under the bark, and the amount of wood needed to coat the whole tree increases, just as, in a set of Russian dolls, each new doll on the outside has to be bigger. As the tree grows, the amount of food needed for running it rises. The tree resembles a bank account whose income (sugary food) is fixed but whose outgo (respiration and new wood) keeps mounting. The tree compensates for a time by producing narrower and narrower rings, but there comes a point when a ring cannot get any narrower. Something has to give, usually the water-deprived top most branches. The result is a stag-headed tree, so named for the antlerlike dead branches sticking out of the top. A downward spiral begins: the loss of branches means fewer leaves, and fewer leaves means less new wood.

    But many trees can slow the process. Some have buds in the trunk that sprout new branches. These may hold enough leaves to make up for those lost higher up, so the tree can keep the leaf area constant while cutting out the expensive-to-maintain upper trunk and its big branches.

    Although these new trunk branches are fairly short-lived (a hundred years in oak, sixty years in hornbeam and beech, and less in birch and willow), an oak with plentiful trunk buds can stave off death for centuries. As the old saying goes: "Oak takes 300 years to grow, 300 years it stays, 300 years it takes to decline." Perhaps we should think of a stag-headed oak as merely entering middle age and, like many humans, just going a little bald on top.

    A tree has no fixed life span. To live long, it must stay small. One way to do this is to grow slowly. Bristlecone pines are the supreme example: they live on poor soil in a dry, cold environment with a short growing season. One bristlecone in the American Southwest has been documented at three feet tall, less than three inches in diameter, and 700 years old! The other way to stay small and live long is, paradoxically, to be cut down repeatedly. (This strategy, of course, will work only for trees capable of regrowing when cut which in many trees can do more harm than good and can lead to death in trees if one can't cope with fungus, regrow stresses, etc. mainly older trees can suffer or die) The ash Fraxinus excelsior normally lives for 250 years, yet Suffolk, England, hosts a coppiced ash with a stump almost seventeen feet in diameter. It is at least a thousand years old.

    A tree's bank balance is also influenced by savings in the form of food reserves. As a tree gets bigger, however, it has less food left over. At the same time, the larder--the sapwood--gets smaller. Eventually, infections penetrate inner structures, and storage capacity is lost behind a barrier zone, a layer of new cells produced in the inner bark to seal off infected wood. The living part of the tree is walled into a thinner and thinner space under the bark. Part of the tree dies. New branches on the trunk can still save its life, but a large old tree is not good at producing new shoots, perhaps because it is running out of stored buds or because they are trapped behind thick bark. New sprouts on weak trees often die just when people think the tree is going to live. This may be because the barrier zone is missing or because there are too few reserves left for the tree to grow a strip of tissue from the new branch down to the roots. Either way, disease easily overtakes the tree, and the branch withers away. At this point, the tired old tree bows out gracefully."

    Peter Thomas is a lecturer in environmental science at Keele University, United Kingdom.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    May 2008
    cottageville, south carolina

    RE: tree life expectancy

    wow thanks everyone, and special thanks to treeman for the very informative reply. this may be a little off the subject, but people say that sprouts and suckers from trees indicates poor health, but this seems to happen on all trees that were growing in forest situations when the area is cleared and they have no competition for sunlight. the trees in my yard do this and i figure it's normal because they can finally gather more light, right?

  9. #19

    RE: tree life expectancy

    Some types of trees sucker naturally and it does not mean bad health most of the time. One good example is Quaking Aspen which suckers as natural way to spread. Some large genetically identical groves of Quaking Aspen are thought to be thousands of years old although a single above ground Quaking Aspen can only live 100 to 200 years, but the roots keep on suckering and getting larger. But some trees rarely or never sucker like Pine trees. Age is also a factor if a tree can sucker or not, trees that are not at a old age can sucker a lot if cut down such as Sweetgums, Red maples, Tulip tree, Oaks, etc. But the older a tree becomes the harder for it to sucker becomes (maybe because of thicker bark and other reasons). If a forest was cleared many tree species can sucker a lot from the stump and roots if cut down and they are not too old, this does not mean poor health, it's just the tree trying to grow leaves so it can live. Like I said before many suckers don't develop as strong root systems and they can be to crowded having multiple trunks and splitting apart when they reach a large size in a storm. But suckering can also be if a tree top is starting to die or becomes stressed from something.

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Dalton, GA

    RE: tree life expectancy

    Yeah, this did turn out to be a very informative thread!

    I always think "stress" whenever I see watersprouts. Like these pics of a white oak:

    That is a friend's oak.... My white oak is doing the same thing where it was trimmed last year by the power company. But mine doesn't cover the whole tree, just the part that was cut.

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