Do Trees Die of Old Age? What Greenville County Residents Must Know

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You've probably seen one of those trees that look like the Whomping Willow—but with more leaves and healthy branches. You might even wonder if it will ever die at some point. Do trees die of old age? Greenville's top-rated tree service will cover the details below. 

Understanding Tree Senescence

Trees are similar to animals and humans because they grow, reproduce, and die. However, they differ fundamentally at the cellular level. While human and animal cells stop growing or grow too sloppily to the point of causing deleterious mistakes, tree cells can technically grow forever.

Therefore, the list of the oldest discovered trees contains a few that have lived for thousands of years. Do trees die of old age at some point? Currently, scientists have no evidence to suggest that, but the tree aging process is different.

Old trees are identical on a cellular level to younger trees, so old age doesn't affect them in the way it will affect animals or humans.

Importantly, you should keep in mind that even animals and humans do not truly die of old age. They often die of organ failure or other diseases associated with aging. In trees, aging causes no known diseases. Any disease that can kill a 4,000-year-old tree will kill a five-year-old one, all things being equal.

How Does Old Age Affect Tree Lifespan?

When a tree reaches maturity, its physiological processes will naturally start to decline. The tree stops growing taller. Photosynthesis, respiration, translocation, and reproduction also slow down.

A combination of these factors can make the tree more vulnerable to disease, insects, and adverse weather conditions. 

Top Causes of Tree Death

Aging trees die when they can no longer respire, produce food, or transport nutrients efficiently. Factors that can cause those conditions include: 


Prolonged drought makes some of the biggest changes to natural tree mortality. Most trees depend on their stores of moisture and carbohydrates. During periods of drought, they will try to conserve water by losing some of their leaves. This hampers photosynthesis.

Severe Weather Events

Heavy winds and storms can shorten the lifespan of trees, tearing off branches or uprooting the tree partially or completely. Floods can also affect the roots, forcing them to rot. All these conditions can cause the tree to die. 

Nutrient Deficiencies

A tree growing in depleted or compacted soil will not get all the nutrients it needs to continue thriving. If the tree is already old, the deficiency will hasten its decline.

Pests and Diseases

Pests and diseases kill thousands of trees annually. If you don't spot the pest infestation or disease early, the tree will die over time regardless of its age.

Get Expert Guidance on Caring for Your Aging Trees

Do trees die of old age? Technically, they don't. However, they become more prone to death due to stressors as they age.

Do you want to learn how to protect your trees from these stressors? Do you wonder, “Will broken branches kill a tree?” Call Monster Tree Service of Greenville County today at (864) 756-5665 to learn more.