Can trees die of old age?

The oldest tree in the world belongs to the species Pinus longaeva, which has not been named for nothing: it is approximately 5, 000 years old, having witnessed the entire history of mankind since Mesopotamia! She "saw" the rise of ancient Egypt, the Chinese dynasties, the entire Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, and so on.

This leads to a very interesting question: can trees and plants die of old age? First of all, it is important to point out that nothing and no one dies “from old age”, since this is not a disease. This is a phase of life in which other illnesses appear more often - in humans, we can highlight pneumonia, cancer and the flu.

During aging, animal cells end up dividing much more slowly, sometimes even stopping this process. Gradually, they are showing signs of this wear, either through wrinkles or diseases that affect this period of life.


5, 000 years of history

With plants, however, the aging process is different: each tree has a different type of growth and is difficult to determine. Roughly speaking, they could grow forever, impacted by external forces such as winds and rain. However, many reach a peak, which is when the roots can no longer send nutrients to the crowns - from there, they grow more sideways.

And the curious thing is that with older age this growth tends to be faster! At least that's what a survey published in the journal Nature in 2014, based on more than 700, 000 trees! The real reason for this is unknown, but it must be because most plant cells are perpetually embryonic; that is, they can take any form at any time.

So, as much as trees are supposed to be “eternal, ” they still have to deal with external factors that do not allow their ages to match their nature. Thunderstorms can break vital branches, pests can cause disease, humans can cause deforestation .... there are numerous factors that lead to the death of plants.



This should answer the question of reader Rafael Calheiro, who came to us via Facebook's inbox! Thanks Rafa! And if anyone else has megacurent questions, they can send us there or leave comments on any article here on the site; As soon as possible, let's investigate!