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INDEPTH: ENVIRONMENT
Lifespan of common urban trees
CBC News Online | August 11, 2005

Not all trees are created equal when it comes to life in the city, says Ken Farr, a tree expert with the Canadian Forest Service.

As a general rule, there are more species of long-lived broadleaf trees than conifers. But don�t rush out to plant that gorgeous Canadian icon, the sugar maple, if you want your great grandchildren to see it.

�Sugar maples don�t like growing in the city. They never have. They don�t like compacted soil. They also don�t tolerate pollution very well,� says Farr.

White birch is another esthetically pleasing tree that evokes nationalistic feeling, but like the sugar maple, can�t stand the city. �They�re highly susceptible to summer drought, they don�t like pollution and they�re a real target for boring insects,� says Farr.

One more no-no for city planting is the eastern white pine, the official tree of Ontario. During colonial times, these majestic trees were logged and floated down the Ottawa River, destined for the masts of English ships.

Today, no urban forester would chose the eastern white pine for street planting because of its intolerance to road salt.

�If you live in eastern Canada where they throw salt around like popcorn, you grow the Austrian and Scotch pine. They are non-native European species that have a good tolerance for salt,� says Farr.

So without further delay, we offer here some of the more common trees grown in Canada�s cities and towns, and their expected lifespan (trees in a natural setting have longer lifespans):

Species Expected lifespan
Norway maple 100 years
Red maple 100 years
Silver maple 100 years
Sugar maple 75 years (away from compacted soil)
Horse chestnut 75 years
White birch 30 years
European white birch 30 years
Northern catalpa 75 years
Northern hackberry 100 years
Russian olive 50 years
European beech 125 years
White ash 100 years
Green ash 75 years
Ginkgo 100+ years
Honey-locust 75 years
Chinese juniper 75 years
Rocky Mountain juniper 50 years
Eastern red cedar 50 years
European larch 100+ years
Tamarack 75 years
Tulip tree 100 years
Saucer magnolia 50 years
Dawn redwood 100+ years
White mulberry 100 years
Norway spruce 75 years
White spruce 75 years
Black spruce 50 years
Colorado spruce 75 years
Mugho pine 75 years
Austrian pine 50 years
Ponderosa pine 75 years
Eastern white pine 100+ years (away from road salt)
Scots pine 75 years
London plane-tree 75 years
Cherry-laurel 50 years
Japanese flowering cherry 30 years
Rocky Mountain Douglas fir 100+ years
White oak 100 years
Pin oak 75 years
English oak 75 years
Red oak 75 years
Black locust 75 years
Golden weeping willow 50 years
Sierra redwood 100+ years
European mountain ash 25 years
Japanese yew 75 years
Eastern white cedar 100+ years
Western red cedar 100+ years
Little-leaf linden 75 years
Western hemlock 100+ years
White elm 30 years (200 were it not for Dutch elm disease)
Source: Canadian Forest Service



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