Do Trees Die of Old Age in Greenwich, CT?

June 14, 2024

As Greenwich’s tree removal contractor of choice, clients often ask us about aging trees. They want to know, “Do trees die of old age?” even when a mature tree looks healthy or a smaller tree looks distressed. 

Read further to learn more about the fascinating life cycle of trees.

Trees Grow and Live Differently Than Animals

Do trees die of old age? Of course, trees begin life as seeds and grow and reproduce like many other life forms. And, yes, they eventually die. However, the life cycle of trees is fundamentally different from animal life at a cellular level. 

While animal cells eventually stop growing or functioning correctly, leading to death, tree cells maintain their ability to grow indefinitely. Many giant sequoias live very long lives, some over 3,000 years.

Trees eventually die from many causes, but science has not yet definitively shown that old age does them in. All known evidence indicates that ancient trees — even the Great Basin bristlecone pine “Methuselah” in California, estimated 5,000 years old — have the same cellular structure as a sapling. 

Any disease or external cause that can kill long-lived trees can just as quickly kill a very young tree.

Do Trees Stop Growing?

As an individual tree reaches its natural maturity, its fundamental processes change, and it stops growing taller. Its reproductive activity and photosynthesis also slow down as it stops growing taller.

If They Don’t Die of Old Age, What Kills Trees?

Like all life forms, trees die when they cannot respire, convert food to energy, or take nutrition from the environment. Trees are hit hard by many deadly events, including:

  • Severe weather. We have all seen the effects of high winds, lightning, mudslides, and other weather on trees of all sizes and ages.
  • Drought. Prolonged, severely dry weather directly affects a tree’s viability. Most tree species store moisture and carbohydrates in reserve for dry weather, but there are practical limits to how long they can go by conserving stored water when no rain comes. As it directly impacts photosynthesis, the lack of water over an extended period will drive a tree into dormancy or death.
  • Pests and disease. Every year, an untold number of trees die from diseases caused by microorganisms and infestations by insects and parasites.
  • Decay. After trees reach maturity, the metabolic changes described above restrict their ability to regenerate and defend core tissues and damaged areas. When an older tree suffers significant injury or decay, it can lose structural integrity to the point it breaks up and falls.

Let Frank’s Arborcare LLC Assist With Every Tree Need

If you have questions about trees on your property or trees you might like to plant, contact Frank’s Arborcare LLC. Whether you are wondering, “Do trees die of old age?” or need help with a tree removal permit, tree care, or anything a professional arborist can help with, we are ready to assist. 

Call us today at (203) 423-9523 to schedule a consultation with one of our expert arborists at your property in Greenwich or around Connecticut. 

Call Now Button