Do Trees Die of Old Age? – The Answer May Surprise You!


Have you ever wondered whether trees can die from old age like humans? After all, trees are living organisms, and like most living things, it wears and deteriorates over time. Then, would it be a reasonable hypothesis that trees can pass away from old age?

In theory, trees do not die from old age and can continue to live indefinitely. In reality, this does not occur; trees are more likely to die from external factors caused by living organisms and/or environmental factors. In favorable conditions, trees can live for thousands of years.

Generally, a tree can have a long and fulfilled life, but what happens when it is threatened by destruction? Keep reading below to find out more about trees and the threats they face in their environment.

Why Trees Die?

Technically, trees are designed to withstand almost anything that comes their way and hold up a strong fight against extinction. Unfortunately, trees rarely get to live indefinitely due to many external (and sometimes internal) mechanisms living and non-living, destroying them for various reasons such as materials for building, sustenance, or many other reasons that you will uncover in the following paragraphs.

If trees are not going to live forever and continue to face adversity, are there any trees deemed long-living currently on the planet?

If Trees Don’t Live Forever, What Is the Oldest Tree on the Planet?

On record, the oldest living tree is a Great Basin Bristlecone Pine which has been studied and found to be over 5,000 years old! The longevity of this particular tree has been attributed to the extremely harsh and unforgiving conditions it lives in, which insulates it from external and internal chances of destruction.

If you would like to find this tree in its natural habitat, the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine can be found in Utah, California, Nevada, and other Western States in the United States in North America.

So, how many trees are there in the world if they can’t all live forever like The Great Basin Bristlecone pine?

Where Is the World’s Largest Tree Population Located?

On average, there are 3.04 trillion trees on the planet with that roughly being 422 trees per living person. That sounds like an awful lot of trees on the planet, but when you start to account for areas in the world where trees are not found, it starts to become a consideration of, where do all of these trees exist?

The bulk of the tree population on the planet can be found in none other than Russia and its vast forests. In total, Russia houses the most amount of trees spreading across its 8,249,300 sq. km of forest land. Coming in second is Canada which boasts a little under half the amount of forested area of Russia at 4,916,438 sq. km.

There are a lot of trees between Russia and Canada, but still, they are under threat of becoming the latest victim of one of the many ways that trees die.

How Do Trees End up Dying?

Generally, a tree can survive as long as it has an environment that allows it to thrive for many years. Sometimes, there is a failure in this environment, and in this case, there are many ways that a tree could end up dying and be revoked a pass to live indefinitely.

As a whole, many things can be considered bad for trees.

Globally, trees come under fire from all kinds of threats by humans and within nature. There are plenty of untouched locations in the world where trees are safe to thrive, but what happened to all the trees that were not as lucky?

Trees are more likely to die from unfavorable environmental conditions than old age’

The following list details the many ways a tree could be killed if we were to take a look at what could happen anywhere in the world.

  • Drought: When a drought occurs, there is little water to go around. This is when rain or snow runoff is so little that all living things start to succumb to thirst, even trees.
  • Fire: Wildfire is one of the leading causes of tree death in dryer climates. If a tree succumbs to a fire, it will have its root destroyed, and any chance of regrowing will be impossible.
  • Unfriendly Microbes: What is often unseen to us humans is the biological warfare that occurs beneath the surface where the tree’s roots and core is. An unsuspecting tree could become a victim of a biotic or abiotic organism with sinister plans to kill off the tree for its own benefit.
  • Humans: Human intervention in tree death varies from logging, purposeful wildfire setting, accidental, and so on.
  • Logging: Humans will cut down, process, and sell wood from trees eliminating trees in the thousands during this process.
  • Pests: Pests often feed on what the tree has to offer, whether this is sap, leaves, and water until the tree is depleted of its own sustenance.
  • Forest clearing for land use: Clearing large swaths of forests filled with long-living and thriving trees is becoming an increasing phenomenon. This is done to accommodate population growth.

Trees have had to battle against mechanisms, both living and nonliving, that are set out to destroy them. Despite it all, trees still put up a strong defense against these threats and continue to thrive and have long-lasting lives.

Trees Are a Gift to Us All!

Trees are one of nature’s gifts to all things living as they provide us with nutrients, shelter, filtration, and natural resources that help many living organisms survive on the planet. If only trees could live forever, maybe they could grow and become even stronger and offer more benefits than what we currently know.

Sadly, like all things, trees must die for one reason or another, but we can continue to do as much as possible to protect them and keep them around for as long as possible.

Citations

Localtreeestimates.com
Dgb.earth
Scientificamerican.com
treesatlanta.org

Image Credits

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mythja

AskthePlantician

Hi I'm Mike, a self-proclaimed plantician (an invented profession to describe a plant enthusiast). Based in Sydney Australia, I enjoy the great outdoors and the greenery things around the garden, in particular, indoor climbing plants.

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