Like people, trees have a limited life-span, but many factors can play into the age they actually live to. Gray birch, Hornbeam and Striped Maple, for example are short-lived trees. They may live 30 years at the most.
Redwood, Cypress and Sequoia trees, on the other hand, may live for thousands of years. Here in Maine, the average lifespan of the average tree would probably be about 100 to 120 years, although I have seen some rare cases of up to 400 years of age, which takes us back to the days of the Pilgrims (if only those trees could talk).
As most people know, you can tell the age of a tree by counting the rings. Each ring equals one year of growth. Often times the rings tell a story. There are usually some good growth years and some lean years, as evident by the rings, which hint to drought, open sunlight conditions or overcrowding. A fire or a wound-healed-over may be evident in the rings.
The White Pine is the official state tree, and would typically live a hundred years or more. The Red Oak is another common tree in Maine and would live to a similar age.
There are a few factors that can shorten a tree's life-span. Some double-topped trees, depending on the situation, can split and die prematurely, sometimes damaging homes and property in the process. Excavation can cause health problems for a tree in the form of damaged roots or altered water flow. Also, insects, disease, fire and weather can each play a role as well.
You may have a tree that you want to live forever, and with a little luck, it may last for your lifetime, if it’s well taken care of, but no tree lives forever, that’s just the way nature works.
Side note: I wrote this “Tree Talk” article for my dad, who recently passed away at age 90. He loved working in the woods and cutting trees his whole life, and often commented that we had more trees in his later years than we did when he was a child (probably due to a lot of old farm fields being abandoned and reverting back to forest). He also loved to read my Tree Talk articles in tne newspaper, often cutting them out and saving them. I wanted my dad to live on forever, or at least for my lifetime, but, like the White Pine, that’s not the way nature works.