The longevity of a leaf is related to the benefit that the plant is able to derive from it.This benefit varies among seasons and as more leaves emerge, such that leaf lifespan can be limited by canopy position rather than physiological age. Using interval-censored failure time analysis, we investigate leaf lifespan for 34 Mediterranean species in a previously published dataset involving species with different life forms and functional strategies. Failure time regression models were used to determine leaf lifespan, and to investigate how these effects varied among species. Median lifespan estimated for each species with two methods differed by less than 10% on average, but varied from 0.02–19.5% depending on the shape of the underlying failure time distribution. Within shoots, later-emerging leaves had shorter lifespans for species with longer periods of leaf emergence, and the reverse was true for species with short emergence. Having accounted for the within-shoot effect, leaves emerging in spring had shorter lifespans, particularly herbaceous species, whereas the reverse was true woody species. These effects were consistent among life forms and successional stages, and consistent with theories of within-shoot translocation of resources following self-shading.