What is considered old for a tree?

In perfect conditions, a white oak can live up to 300 years or more. In this case, caring for these trees could require very different tactics. You see, red buds grow faster and live shorter lives than mighty oaks. Therefore, even though the two trees are the same age, they are in very different stages of their lives.

Old age includes two stages of life of the tree before death. Again, depending on the species and variety, it will likely take several years, even decades, before an older tree finally succumbs to death. Older trees are also often better for harvesting. In Alberta, our trees grow very slowly, so it takes 80-120 years of growth before a tree is big enough to be used in products such as wood and pulp.

Due to the slow growth of Alberta trees, the fibers are very long and strong, producing very high quality paper and wood products. There are three tree tables, which are listed by age and species. The first table includes trees for which a minimum age has been directly determined, either by counting or cross-referencing tree rings or by radiocarbon dating. Many of these trees may be even older than the ages listed, but the oldest wood on the tree has rotted.

For some old trees, there is so much missing from the center that its age cannot be directly determined. Instead, estimates are made based on the size of the tree and the presumed growth rate. The second table includes trees with these estimated ages. The last table shows the clonal colonies in which no single tree trunk can be noticeably old, but in which it is believed that the organism as a whole is very old.

It is often difficult to estimate the age of an ancient tree, but one method that is used, in addition to considering the old characteristics, is to measure the circumference of the trunk (see more information below). A colony of 48,000 quaking aspens (nicknamed Pando), covering 106 acres (43 ha) in Utah's Fishlake National Forest, is considered to be one of the oldest and largest organisms in the world.