How Long Can Trees Live?

UK Natives




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The questions "how old is that bonsai" and "how long can a bonsai live" are often asked by those gaining an interest in bonsai. The answer to these specific questions are answered elsewhere at Bonsai4me (Starting Out In Bonsai) however, whilst browsing the UK National Parks website recently I ran across this data for the life-expectancy of many native tree species found growing in the wild in the UK.

This data illustrates the average or expected life-span of trees growing in the wild in the UK and therefore represents what can be seen as the natural life expectancy of each species:

Common Name
Latin Name
Typical Life-Span (Years)
Common Alder
Alnus glutinosa
120
Common Ash
Fraxinus excelsior
200
European Beech
Fagus sylvatica
350
Birch
Betula sp.
100
Wild/Gean Cherry
Prunus avium
50
Common Hawthorn
Crataegus monogyna
300
Hazel
Corylus avellana
70
Holly
Ilex aquifolium
300
Hornbeam
Carpinus betulus
300
Field Maple
Acer campestre
120
European/English Oak
Quercus robur
800
Rowan/Mountain Ash
Sorbus aucuparia
120
Scots Pine
Pinus sylvestris
500
Willow
Salix sp.
400
Yew
Taxus baccata
5000

As bonsai, the exact life expectancy of each tree species should be greater. Ideal growing conditions, protection from the worst of the elements, natural trauma, insects and disease and being continual pruned (which in turn encourages juvenile branch and root growth) should theorectically ensure that a tree lives beyond its average life-span as a bonsai.