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8 Willow St. San Rafael, CA 94901
Urban Forestry Associates, INC
ANSWER: The answer to this is almost always, “Not as old as you might think.” Unfortunately, we can almost never look at a tree and say for certain how old it is. There are many factors that contribute to the growth rate of a tree such as species and site conditions. A species like giant sequoia, which is known as “shade tolerant”, can grow slowly in the shade for hundreds of years and only reach a size of 60’. The same tree could be planted in full sun and rich soil and easily reach over 100’ in less than a century. Without performing a mildly invasive analysis with an increment bore (which we can do), there is no way to say for certain.
CASE STUDY: Two equal sized redwood rounds approximately 36" in diameter. The round on the left was growing in a creek and was a mere 56 years old at the time of death (removal). Note the large growth rings. The round on the right grew on a steep slope in Mill Valley and was over 285 years old! As a reference, that predates commercial logging as well as ANY Spanish Missions in Californa!