Dakota Gardener - Tree Roots

I’m in my early 50s. To my three-year-old grandson, that’s really old. But to my mom, who’s in her 80s, I’m still a kid. She has 14 grandkids and 11 great-grandkids, but I’m still her baby.

When my dad turned 60, he got a T-shirt that read “60 isn’t old…if you’re a tree!” It was a fun, teasing gift from a good friend.

My thoughts have often gone back to that T-shirt over the years. Is a 60-year-old tree young? For some tree species, yes. For other tree species, even a 30-year-old tree is an old-timer, especially in a tough climate like North Dakota.

Last week, I received a question from a colleague who read that the maximum lifespan of green ash trees in the Badlands was 100 years. Did I agree with that statement?

The short answer was no, I didn’t agree. I’ve cored dozens of green ash trees in the Badlands, and two of them were more than 100 years old. One tree was more than 125 years old when I took a core in 2010. The other tree was more than 138 years old back in 2018. Both trees were very healthy.

In other parts of North Dakota, I’ve found a number of green ash trees that were in their 160s and 170s. The oldest one I’ve found was 185 years old. That tree was harvested for timber in 2007.

So, how old is old?

Read the full story in your Monday, Nov. 22nd Times-Record online edition. Purchase your online copy by clicking subscribe in the top left corner of the www.times-online.com home page.

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