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I have heard that there is no limit on the growth of trees, but then why do some trees, such as boxelders and poplars, tend to live shorter than redwoods, for example? Some advertisements for improved lombardy poplars state that their trees have an extended life span, up to 75 years? The trees with shorter life spans seem to weaken at a certain age, and then contract diseases more easily.

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do clones count as part of the lifespan? If so, many trees have an infinite lifespan. (I'm not hunting for technicalities, I'm just guessing that most trees die as a result of macroscopic effects like rotting out, infections, etc) –  Shep May 2 '12 at 12:23
    
No. clones, once established and detached from the parent plants, become essentially new plants, and have a whole life ahead of them. –  jmusser May 3 '12 at 1:16
    
The answer to (this question) may be relevant to you. I didn't see your question until now, and it is very similar to a recent question I answered! –  Luke Sep 30 '13 at 10:51
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Although most plants can potentially reproduce sexually, there are some plants that effectively always reproduce by shedding off branches which, when they fall in the right conditions, grow into new 'clones' of the same tree, which the exact genetic material. In these cases, it is advantageous for the tree to be able to survive as long as possible. Plants that reproduce sexually by the cross of two different individuals have a recombined genetic material in every generation, and the survival of that plant with that new genome is usually shorter.

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why do you think that recombination of genetic material leads to shorter life span? –  Michael Kuhn Jun 14 '12 at 12:15
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Because recombination is a mechanism to adapt to environmental changes. Then it is more important that nutrients, light and water are available for the "improved" next generation than for feeding yet unadapted elder individuals that might not survive long under new conditions. –  skymninge Aug 27 '13 at 6:14
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