There are trees that have been able to live for thousands of years. The oldest tree species have stood the test of time, they have witnessed the history of the world. The natural changes of the planet and those that are a consequence of human action have survived.
Among the longest-lived species are Pines, redwoods, larch, cypress, olive, cedar, sugis, oak, yew, chestnut and baobab.
What are the properties of ancient trees? Longevity is based on disease resistant genes and the adaptability of the immune system to fight new pests. Durability is also a result of the environmental conditions where the tree grows.
The oldest trees in the world
Specimens of the oldest tree species captivate scientists, onlookers and tourists around the world.
One of the oldest trees in the world belongs to the long-lived pine species. It is known as Methuselah, for the biblical character who lived hundreds of years. It has existed for more than 4,800 years and is in the Inyo National Forest, in the White Mountains of California (USA).
The tree is not identified to protect it from human activity. Visitors can freely enter the forest, but it is impossible to determine which is Methuselah.
The source of the durability of long-lived pines is the adversity in which they thrive. They grow more than 3,000 meters above sea level in arid places where icy winds blow.
The action of the wind causes its trunk to acquire twisted shapes, but endowed with great strength. The trunk has a layer of resin that protects it from parasites and fungi.
Japanese cedar It is in the group of ancient trees, it is an endemic species of the Asian country. The oldest and largest known specimen is the Jōmon Sugi. It is estimated to be between 2,000 and 7,000 years old, is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and is on the island of Yakushima.
The tree remains protected, you have to stand on an observation platform to contemplate it from a distance.
In Iran, in Yazd province, there is a cypress that has lived at least 4,000 years: the Sarv-e Abarqu. It is a national monument of the country, visited all year round, and revered by the religion of Zoroastrianism.
The yew tree from the Welsh village of Llangernyw, which inhabits the churchyard of St. Dygain Church, is between 1,500 and 5,000 years old. Since 2002 it has been included in the list of the 50 great British trees.
Larch It is in the club of the oldest tree species, it is typical of the Andean regions of Chile and Argentina. Between the 19th and 20th centuries it was a tree exploited for its attractive and resistant reddish wood. The exploitation brought it to the brink of disappearance, which is why today the larch is classified as an endangered species.
The oldest living specimen is over 3,600 years old and is known as Great Grandfather or Millennial Larch. It is in the Alerce Costero National Park of the Los Ríos Region (Chile), and it has been a natural monument since 1977.
In South America there is another 3,000-year-old tree, the Patriarca da FlorestaIt belongs to the species Cariniana legalis, is found in the forests of Santa Rita do Passa Quatro, in Brazil, where it stands as a sacred guardian.
This species is classified as vulnerable due to the deforestation of the forested areas of Brazil and also of neighboring Colombia and Venezuela.
Olive, chestnut and redwood trees among the oldest trees
The olive It is a species native to the Mediterranean that can live for thousands of years. Its longevity is due to its ability to resist disease and cope with climate extremes such as drought and floods.
The olive tree of Vouves, which has been around for at least 3,000 years, is the oldest specimen of this species. It is still capable of producing olives, which makes it even more attractive. To admire it, you have to go to Kolymvari, on the island of Crete in Greece.
Between 2,000 and 4,000 years of life has the chestnut tree of the Hundred Horses, the oldest among the trees of its kind. It stands on the slopes of Mount Etna, an active volcano, located on the island of Sicily, Italy. It owes its name to a legend: a queen and a hundred knights found shelter under the tree to protect themselves from a great storm.
The giant sequoia it is one of the oldest tree species. The most famous specimen of this species is the General Sherman, an imposing tree over 2,000 years old.
Thousands of people go to admire it every year at the Sequoia National Park in Visalia, California, United States. They do so not only motivated by the longevity of the tree, but also by its enormity expressed in more than 83 meters in height. It is considered the largest tree in the world, and it continues to grow. It is named after the hero of the Civil War, General William Sherman.
In New Zealand’s Waipoua Forest is the Te Matua Ngahere, or The father of the forest. It is a tree of the species kauri, endemic to the region, which is between 1,000 and 4,000 years old.
It is considered natural heritage, and is cared for by the Maori. Tourists can admire this and other long-lived kauris by following the signs to preserve them. It is considered a threatened species due to the spread of a degenerative disease.
In Sweden you will find the Old Tjikko, of the solitary Norway spruce species, the longest-lived cloned tree. According to scientific studies, the visible part is 600 years old, but the roots of the tree have been alive for 9,550 years. It has the ability to clone itself, even if its trunk dies, it will grow back from the same root.
Another example of a long-lived species due to cloning is the pando, a aspen forest, all genetically identical. It is found in Fishlake Forest Park, Utah, United States, and is estimated to have arisen from a single tree 80,000 years ago.