Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How Long Does a Tree Live?

By David Scott
How Long Does a Tree Live?

Trees are some of the longest living organisms on the planet. The beauty, peace and strength that they symbolize possess the same longevity. However, not all trees are very strong, nor do they all have enormous life spans. That means that there is no average age for a tree: the life of a tree all depends on the type.


In the early 1900s, A. E. Douglass discovered that one can count how many years a tree has lived by counting its growth rings. This process is at the heart of the science of dendrochronology, which is the study of tree growth ring patterns. For every year a tree lives, one growth ring is developed, making the ages of most trees very easy to determine.

Age Range of Trees

Trees can live, in very rare cases, up to six thousand years, although reaching that age is highly unlikely. Trees are most likely to live to old age in old-growth forests. For example, a Douglas Fir may live anywhere from 400 to 600 years in optimal conditions. As a shorter example, the average cherry tree life expectancy is around 20 years.


Trees rarely die of old age, as most humans do. Generally, trees die from insect infestation, such as from the bark beetle. They also die due to human environmental impacts, such as logging or construction.


Trees, along with all other photosynthetic plants, absorb carbon dioxide from the air and emit oxygen, which is the reason we can breathe.

Extending The Life-Span of Trees

If a tree dies due to an insect infestation, remove the bark from where the tree once stood. That will (hopefully) get rid of most of the insects. One can purchase sprays to protect trees that have not been infested with insects already, or purchase an insecticide if already infested to prevent the spread of the insects.


About the Author


David Scott has been a firefighter for the Seattle Fire Department's Technical Rescue Team for almost 20 years. He has been writing primarily since 2005, but did author the book, "The White River Ranger District Trail Guide" in 1988. In addition to his work for Demand Studios, Scott spends much of his time writing poetry and a novel.