Trees are among the world’s oldest living species. Nothing on Earth grows as old as the trees. Many species of trees have survived for thousands of years and continue to do so. These majestic life forms have witnessed a change in civilizations and have survived various environmental threats all along.
We can find the world’s largest and oldest trees in every climate and location around the planet. Each of them has developed their coping mechanism to adapt to their environment and grow expansively.
The following is a list of the world’s ten oldest trees. Some are still alive and flourish, whereas human atrocities have destroyed many of these marvelous life forms.
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In 1957, Tom Harlan and Edmund Schulman discovered Methuselah, and until 2012 it was known as the oldest known tree in the world. This tree is believed to have been germinated somewhere around 2832 BCE. It is much older than the Egyptian pyramids!
The exact location of this primitive tree has not been mentioned to keep it safe from destruction. However, it lies somewhere in the Methuselah Grove in the White Mountains of California, among other ancient trees.
It is the world’s oldest non-clonal tree, with an estimated age of 5,000 years. It is about 63.3 meters (207.8 feet) high and 29.2 meters (95.8 feet) wide. Methuselah was named after the Biblical figure, Methuselah, who was believed to have lived as long as 969 years.
Age: Around 5,000 years
Species: Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva)
Location: California, USA
2. Sarv-e Abarq
One of the oldest trees globally, Sarv-e Abarq, is around 4,000 to 5,000 years old. It has been tough to estimate the exact age, but research proves that it has existed for generations.
It is 25 meters in height and 11.5 meters wide. It is a tree with multiple trunks, and the width grows as it ages. It is a slow-growing evergreen tree and sprouts in springtime. This primitive life form is under the protection of the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran and is listed as a natural national monument.
According to Iranian folk tales, Sarv-e Abarq was planted by Zoroaster, an Iranian prophet or Japhet (the third son of Noah). They believe that the tree has a unique spirit that has lived for a thousand years.
Age: Estimated to be between 4,000 -5,000 years old
Species: Mediterranean Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
Location: Abarkuh, Iran
3. Old Tjikko
Until 2008, Old Tjikko was found to be the oldest living tree in the world and was estimated to be as senile as 10,000 years. It is located in Norway spruce and is believed to have been germinated during the Ice Age!
Old Tjikko is 5 metres (16 feet) tall. Due to the extreme weather conditions in Sweden, it appears in a stunted shrub formation. It is believed that the winds and low temperatures have made Old Tjikko look like a bonsai tree.
Although its trunk and branches are relatively young, the root system dates back thousands of years. Hence, it is recognized as the third oldest clonal tree and the oldest living Picea abies.
The geologist Lei Kullman, who discovered Old Tjikko, named it after his dead dog. Scientists believe that this particular tree was probably brought to Sweden by migrating humans.
Age: 9,550 years
Species: Norway Spruce (Picea abies)
4. Jomon Sugi
The oldest and largest cryptomeria tree, namely Jomon Sugi, is located on the highest peak on an island in Japan and listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has been named after the Jomon period in Japanese history.
This particular tree is at least 2,000 years old. However, an overwhelming number of experts assert that it is more than 7,000 years old. Henceforth, Jomon Sugi could be the oldest tree in the world.
It is assumed that the harsh growing conditions and low soil nutrition have forced the tree to mature at a plodding pace. Due to this fact, they also produce plenty of resin. The resin protects the trees from diseases and decay, helping them to have a long life.
It is 25.3 meters (83 feet) tall, and the trunk circumference is 16.4 meters (25 feet). Discovery and identification of this tree “sparked moves to protect the forests” in Yakushima and increased tourism extensively in this area of Japan.
Age: Estimated to be over 5,000 years old
Species: Yakusugi (Cryptomeria japonica)
Location: Yakushima, Japan
5. Jurupa Oak
This colonial tree is estimated to have survived over 13,000 years through clonal reproduction, making it one of the world’s oldest living trees. Mitch Province, a botanist, discovered it in the Jurupa Mountains in Crestmore Heights, California, in the 1990s.
It is the third oldest living thing on Earth and is commonly known as Hurungna Oak. When first discovered, Jurupak Oak had around 70 clusters of stems and was spread at about 2.5 kilometers (1.55 miles). It was about one meter (3.2 feet) in height.
Jurupa Oak is sacred to native California culture. Due to the extensive residential and commercial development, Jurupa Oak is at a continuous threat of extinction.
One of the most surprising facts about Jurupa Oak is that although it prefers wet and mountainous locations, it has been flourishing at a lower altitude with a drier climate. The exact location of this ancient tree has been kept a secret to protect it from souvenir hunters.
Age: over 13,000
Species: Palmer’s Oka (Quercus Palmeri)
Location: California, USA
6. The Senator
The Senator was one of the substantial and most primitive bald cypress trees in the world. It was around 3,500 years old. The Senator reached up to 36 meters (118 feet) in height and 10.7 meters (35 feet) wide before death. However, the tree was initially 50 meters tall until a 1925 hurricane damaged the top structure.
The Senator was entirely ruined by a 2012 fire, started by an individual who left a burning cigarette inside the tree. And in the year 2013, Authorities permitted several artists to make flutes, vases, pens, and other sculptures from the remains of the Senator.
Age: Estimated to be around 3,500 years
Species: Pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens)
Location: Longwood, Florida
7. Gran Abuelo
In Chile, the Alerce Costero National Park hosts the most primitive tree in South America, namely the Gran Abuelo. The tree is more than 60 meters tall (196 feet) and 4 meters (13 feet) wide, and as we speak of it, it continues to grow.
In 1993, researchers were able to estimate the age of the tree through the growth ring technique. At that time, researchers found the estimated age of the tree to be 3,622. The Gran Abuelo is thought to have germinated around 1,500 BCE, based on this discovery.
No wonder they have named it “Gran Abuelo,” which means “great grandfather” in Spanish.
As shocking as this may sound, the sad fact is that the Gran Abuelo is an endangered tree. This particular plant species contains a unique resin within its system that helps the tree to self-decompose slowly and gradually. Henceforth, many other trees of this species have already been cut down and turned into construction materials.
Age: 3,646 years
Species: Patagonian Cypress (Fitzroya cupressoides)
Location: Chile, South America
Pando is the oldest tree globally and is also famous as the oldest living organism on Earth. Commonly known as “the trembling giant,” Pando is estimated to be about 80,000 years old. It is located in the Fremont River Ranger District of the Fishlake National Forest in south-central Utah, United States.
It has a massive underground root system. And although each tree appears to be individual, all germinate from the same root system. All visible shoots are genetically identical clones. It occupies 43.6 hectares (108 acres) and is estimated to have a collective weight of 6,6000 tons. Hence, Pando is also the heaviest known living organism.
The long-term survival of Pandos is uncertain due to several factors such as human development, overgrazing, drought, and fire hazards. Experts assert the fact that Pando is dying and might go extinct soon. They have not been producing as many replacement trees, and the size of Pando is declining with time.
Age: Estimated to be nearly 80,000 years
Species: Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)
Location: Utah, USA
9. Chestnut Tree of One Hundred Horses
The hundred horse chestnut is the largest and oldest known chestnut tree globally, which is about 4,000 years of age, according to Botanist Bruno Peyronel. It has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as “Greatest Tree Girth Ever” with a trunk circumference of 57.9 meters (190 feet).
This ancient tree is famous for being approximately 5 kilometers from Mount Etna, one of the world’s most active volcanoes.
The tree has been named after a legend. It is believed that a queen of Aragon and 100 knights were caught in a severe thunderstorm on their trip to Mount Etna. And, locals assume that the entire company had taken cover under the chestnut tree.
Age: Estimated to be around 2,000 to 4,000 years
Species: Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa)
Location: Sicily, Italy
Prometheus was a member of bristlecone pine trees in Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada. The tree is named after a mythological character, Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods and gifted it to humans.
Prometheus was one of the oldest non-clonal trees until it died in 1964. The tree was cut down by a graduate student and the United States Forest Service personal for research purposes. It has been reported that they were unaware of its value.
Researchers discovered 4,862 growth rings on the core sample of Prometheus. However, they supposed that the tree must have been at least 4,900 years old. Experts believed that as time passed, the tree did not grow a growth ring every year due to the area’s harsh and changing climatic conditions.
Age: Estimated to be between 4,862 – 4,900 years
Species: Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva)
Location: Nevada, USA
The count does not end there. There are plenty of other glorious trees that are over 1,000 years old and continue to thrive. Some of them are Monkey Puzzles, the Lime, the Kauri, the Cedar, the Ginko, and many more. They are wonderfully scattered all over the planet, many of them yet to be discovered!
However, the sad reality is that most of these species are continuously threatened by human activities, leading to habitat destruction. It has been reported that many of such long-lived trees appear to have stopped growing due to changing weather and growing conditions. Not to forget, deforestation and the industrial revolution continue to destroy old forests.
Today, a new threat of climate change has emerged, and the implication towards ancient tree species is extensively perilous.