Do trees die of old age?

December 5, 2016 | Author: | Posted in Environmental

No close parallel exists between trees and animals in respect to maturity and longevity. Trees do not die of old age in the same sense that higher animals and human beings do. In “The Deacon’s MasterpieceOliver Wendell Holmes wrote:
In fact, there’s nothing that keeps its youth,
So far as I know, but a tree and truth.
Some authorities are inclined to believe that death of trees results only from accidents, disease or other unnatural causes. Few trees are permitted to die of “old age.” They are generally killed by storms, insects, blights, soil erosion, fire or the ax and saw of man. Most trees die of disease, and the disease usually takes the form of decay in the trunk, which shuts off the water and food supply from the soil. Still there is sonic reason for believing that trees do have a sort of life cycle or longevity period and that they would grow old and die as the result of the ravages of time even if not destroyed by unnatural or artificial means. Of course this span of life or life cycle, which is much longer in some species than in others, is very indefinite and cannot be calculated with any degree of accuracy. A human being reaches his maximum height at a comparatively early age. In fact in later years his height often decreases somewhat. But a tree continues to grow as long as it is alive, although after it reaches a certain size, depending on the species and other factors, the rate of growth slows down. Some trees live and continue to grow for thousands of years. The giant redwoods of California, famous as the oldest living things on the earth, have virtually achieved “the miracle of perpetual growth.” A few individual trees of this species are estimated to be between 4,000 and 5,000 years of age.

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