In a plant survey I’m doing, I recently found a decent-sized Cotoneaster glaucophylla.
A list of weed species observed in the reserve in 1990 also listed C. glaucophylla.
A 1979 list, however, only listed a Cotoneaster sp. I’m trying to figure out if the 1976 entity was also C. glaucophylla, or one of the other species naturalised in the area. Is it conceivable that the tree I photographed was alive in 1976? Can’t find much reliable info online.
The lifespan estimates for Cotoneaster glaucophyllus seem to be all over the place. I suspect it varies enormously by location and environment.
Page 21 of this Australian arboricultural impact paper indicates a lifespan of 11-20 years.
Other sources simply say “several decades”, and one source I haven’t been able to download says 20-50 years.
In coastal Northern California there is a lot of Cotoneaster growing as an invasive, but I’m not sure of the specific species. I’ve seen many that are well over 30 years, and some that are thick enough at the base that 40-60 years would be entirely unsurprising.
Very few organisms have a fixed lifespan. Even many annual plants can go for multiple years under the right conditions. So published lifespan estimates for a perennial tree are likely to be more spit-balling than predictive information. A lifespan estimate can mean what is the life expectancy at birth (or germination). It can mean what is the time it takes to reach ‘adulthood’ plus the mean or median remaining life there after. It can mean how long it takes before most individuals are dead, or before every individual is dead. And even if a source says that the maximum known age is 50, there is no hard reason individuals in a benign environment couldn’t live longer than that.
A good example of this is coppiced trees. In parts of Europe where coppicing was common (and is making a comeback) some of the trees have lived hundreds of years longer than their “expected lifespan”.
There are reports of trees like ash, Fraxinus excelsior, that normally lives around 200 years living as long as 1000 years if they’re regularly coppiced.
Hazel usually lives around 70 years, but when coppiced it’ll live 200 years or more.
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