Older Trees Grow Faster as They Age

The world’s biggest trees, such as this large Scots pine in southern Spain, are also the world’s fastest-growing trees, according to an analysis of 403 tree species spanning six continents.

Like a fairy-tale beanstalk, a tree can grow and grow until it scrapes the sky.

Instead of slowing down as the centuries add up, old trees speed up their growth, according to a study published today (Jan. 15) in the journal Nature.

“Trees keep growing like crazy throughout their life span,” said Nate Stephenson, lead study author and a forest ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Three Rivers, Calif.

The results of the survey of 403 tree species around the world suggest that trees never suffer the ill effects of old age. In animals, cells change and break down over a lifetime, eventually causing death. But trees seem free from this growth limit, called senescence. Instead, only disease, insects, fire or accidents such as lightning will kill a tree, Stephenson said. (He forgot to mention logging, of course.) “They never stop,” he said. “Every year, they are always putting on more weight than before.”

Read the full story here.

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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at www.amooseinamapletree.com. She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

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