The Q&A Archives: Life Span Of Trees

Question: First of all you are the best online Q&A there is. No one else can or will answer my questions. I have tried to find a good book on trees so I don't have to bug you with my questions but I can't find one. Until then can you bear with me? What I needed to know is, if a tree is fast- or medium-growing (tallow tree, red oak, red maple) does that mean it is short lived? Thanks so much!

Answer: Thanks for all those wonderful, kind words. Of course you can continue to ask us questions. That's why we are here!

Regarding your question...

It is a general rule that fast growing trees are short lived (or prone to problems such as insects, diseases, weak wood or narrow branch angles, etc.). However, this is not a hard and fast rule and there are exceptions.

I'll make a few comments on the trees you mentioned. Tallow trees are fairly short-lived and are considered "weedy" because they produce seedlings that come up everywhere. However, they are the best trees for fall color in southeast Texas. Red oaks are medium in growth rate, but are excellent, long-lived trees. Look for the variety 'Shumard' for a great type of red oak. Red maples are all right in sandy East Texas soils, but struggle in the heavy clays common to your area. They are not short lived as a species, but also may not be the best choice for you. If you go with a red maple, choose a Chalk Maple (Acer leucoderme) or a Southern Red Maple (Acer barbatum).

Thanks for the question and please let us know if we can be of more assistance!

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