We all know how important trees are for the sustenance of life on earth. Trees are useful in many ways for the survival of human lives. Whether it is for the oxygen, fruits and vegetables or hard wood, we hugely depend on plants to stay alive. Although green is the word for youthfulness, some of the trees are the oldest living organisms which have been the witness of several historical events like the rise and fall of several civilizations, battles, and revolutions.
For thousands of years, these plants have survived diseases, fire, flood as well as the damages caused by us. But they are still standing tall with pride and reminding us of our fragility and transience. These ancient trees have brought fame to the place where they are living. It’s true that trees can’t speak, but they can tell us a lot about the history and give us a feeling of reverence and awe whenever we look at them. Some trees are so old that their date of germination cannot be determined through carbon dating. It is undoubtedly a thrill to witness such wonderful monuments created solely by Mother Nature.
Methuselah Tree – 4,848 Years
With twisted stem and branches, the lone-standing Methuselah has a mysterious appearance that will never fail to give you goose bumps. The 4,848 years old Methuselah is a member of Great Basin Bristlecone Pine specie which grows in the White Mountains of eastern California. It was considered to be the oldest tree on earth until Old Hara was found to be even older than Methuselah (more than 5,000 years old). Located in the Inyo National Forest that covers the eastern part of Sierra Nevada in California, it belongs to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine family which is famous for its many other old members. Its germination occurred approximately in 2833 BC, as dated by Edmund Schulman and Tom Harlan. Being one of the oldest non-clonal trees, Methuselah is certainly special among the ancient plants.
Bristlecone Pines are some of the most aged living organisms. Not only Methuselah, but also there are many other trees which are equally old. Although the oldest Methuselah tree isn’t yet marked, you will have to trust your guesswork if you visit the White Mountains of California.
Old Tjikko – 9,558 Years
As the carbon dating revealed, Old Tjikko, the Norway Spruce has been living for 9,558 years and is declared as the “world’s oldest tree”, although there are other older clonal trees. The tree is about 16 feet tall and survives through a process known as layering in which new roots are originated from the branch once it comes in contact with the soil. This tree is located at Fulufjället Mountain in Sweden. Leif Kullman, professor of physical geography in Umea University had discovered this tree in 2004. He named it after his deceased Siberian husky. Quite surprisingly, the tree is still growing. According to Kullman, the sea level was 120 meter lower when the tree was born and now much of that forest has gone under the North Sea. It was due to the cold temperature that the Old Tjikko could not grow but global warming has triggered its growth process. There are several other clonal trees which are almost equally old but it is difficult to determine their actual age.
While the trunk might die after 600 years, the root survives for ages and gives birth to new branches. The exact date of sprouting could not be determined but according to the researchers, the tree germinated in 7550 BC. The tree is conserved by the authority as an asset and protected from the vandals.
Gran Abuelo – 3,645 Yeras
From the Patagonian Cypress family, here comes the third oldest tree in our list, that is, Gran Abuelo. This evergreen tree stands tall and is around 3,645 years old. Located at Alerce Costero National Park in Andes Mountains, Chile, this tree is another one which has survived all sorts of adverse elements and is undoubtedly an asset to the country. Abuelo means grandfather and as the name suggests, this is the oldest of all members in the family. The tree is protected by wildlife conservation authority.
The relics which were discovered at the site of Monte Verde show that these plants were used to make weapons almost 13,000 years ago. These trees were also used during the Spanish Conquest as their currency. This is the reason why the government treats these trees as an asset. Despite such security, many trees have been logged in the 19th century and hence little can be known about its maximum life span.
The President Tree – 3,200 Years
Get ready to be enthralled by the huge trunk and the sturdy branches which have been the silent observer of the glorious past of USA. The giant-sized President tree has a long history as it has lived for about 3,200 years in California’s Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park. With a height of 247 feet and a width of 27 feet, President happens to be the largest tree in world due to its huge volume of the trunk. It is the oldest Sequoia alive and hence very precious to the US government. The volume of its trunk measures up to 45,000 cubic feet and the branches add more body mass to it.
The tree has been named after Warren G. Harding who ruled the United States in 1923. The other Sequoia trees are named after the smaller government bodies like “Senate” or “House”. The President is famous for its unique traits and attracts photographers from all over the world who want to catch a glimpse of this Giant Sequoia.
Llangernyw Yew – 4,000 Years
Covered with gorgeous green leaves, the Llangernyw Yew will never fail to evoke a sense of humility the moment you stand in its shadow. Located at the serene churchyard of St. Digain’s Church in North Wales, this tree is one of the oldest on the globe. There is a debate regarding the age of this giant male yew tree. Yew Tree Campaign holds the opinion that it is almost 4000 years old while according to some people, it is 1,500 years old just as the churchyard itself is. As the experts declare, this tree was planted in the prehistoric Bronze Age and is still blooming. The tree has been somewhat damaged due to the placement of an oil tank but it has now been removed from there and placed somewhere else. There are eight other male yew trees in the churchyard which are not as old as this one.
Legend has it that a spirit called Angelystor resides in the church of Llangernyw which spells out the names of people on the day of Halloween, who will die in the following year. It is also said that a man once challenged this local tradition with disbelief, heard his own name, and faithfully died the next year.
Sarv-e Abarkuh – 4,000 Years
Believed to have been planted in 2000 BC, the Sarv-e Abarkuh is a tree which has witnessed the middle bronze age in Iran. The Mediterranean Cypress known as Sarv-e Abarkuh is located in the Yazd province of Iran and is treated as the natural historic monument by the government. 25 meters high and around 18 meters wide, this tree attracts a large number of tourists and thus contributes to strengthen the economy of the nation. As the second-oldest tree alive in Asia, Sarv-e Abarkuh is almost 4000 years old.
Also known as the Zoroastrian Sarv, this tree is simply majestic and the green canopy is surely pleasing to the eyes. The largeness of the tree is emphasized by the small shrubs which surround it.
The Maha Bodhi Tree – 2,302 Years
This is not just an ordinary fig tree! This is the tree under which Lord Buddha attained Moksha (enlightenment) through his meditation and renunciation. Revered as a sacred sapling, Maha Bodhi stands tall in the Mahamewna Gardens located at Anuradhapura, the previous capital of Sri Lanka. According to the legends, this tree was transported by Sanghamitta from Bodh Gaya to Sri Lanka and planted in the garden of Anuradhapura in 249 BC. The tree is considered to be around 2,302 years old. The area surrounding this tree has become a sacred place and is frequented by Buddhist pilgrims. There is no other human-planted tree as old as this one in Sri Lanka.
The beautiful and prominent heart-shaped leaves separate the Maha Bodhi tree from other fig trees. Every year, on December 8, Bodhi Day is celebrated under this tree and people greet each other on this very day with best wishes.
Patriarca da Floresta – 3,000 Years
With its tall and grand demeanour, Patriarca da Floresta, is the pride of Brazil, located at Santa Rita do Passa Quatro in Sao Paulo. The 3000 years old tree is nothing less than a miracle which belongs to the species called Cariniana Legalis. The grand sapling is as high as 49 meters with a wide trunk of 16 meter circumference. The name of the tree, which implies the Patriarch of the Forest, is derived due to the fact that this is the oldest non-conifer plant in the South America. The tree is believed to be sacred by the Brazilians and is one of the topmost tourist attractions in the country.
Due to the deforestation in these areas, the tree has become threatened and the authority has taken steps to protect this ancient tree. Thankfully, the tree could not be felled due to the lack of proper instrument while the fertile place was chosen for cultivation of sugarcane in the past era.
Jōmon Sugi – 7,000 Years
Changing the status of Japan’s Yakushima Island, the discovery of Jōmon Sugi happened to be quite uplifting. The age of the tree is a much-debated topic. According to some experts, this tree is around 2000 years old, while others speculate that Jōmon Sugi is almost 7000 years old which makes it the oldest tree on the planet. The Cryptomeria tree is 83 feet tall and 53 feet girth have given it more volume and grandeur. It is believed that the tree dates back to the ancient Jomon period (named after the period) which existed between 13,000 BC and 300 BC. Taking the tourism industry to a higher level, the discovery of this tree has made Japan’s economy even stronger. Yakushima Island became a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the old Jōmon Sugi tree.
In 1966, a local civil servant understood the importance of this ancient tree and closed the logging industry which was thriving there. Earlier, hikers were allowed to hug the tree but now you can only see it from 15 km distance. The hike to Jōmon Sugi is a mesmerizing experience for the travelers not only for the tree itself, but the lush green surroundings can also contribute to the excitement.
The Chestnut Tree Of Hundred Horses – 4,000 Years
Being located on Mount Etna, the active volcano in Sicily, The Chestnut Tree of Hundred Horses undoubtedly holds a special charm. Known as the largest and the oldest chestnut tree in the globe, it has a 190 feet girth which is the “Greatest Tree Girth Ever”. This tree is believed to be 2000 to 4000 years old.
Well, why has such a name been attributed to this tree! According to the legends, this chestnut tree provided shelter to the Joan of Aragon, the queen of Naples who, on her way, was stranded by a fierce thunderstorm. The 100 knights and their horses who were also a part of the voyage took rest underneath the tree. Since, then the tree has been known as “The Chestnut Tree Of Hundred Horses”. It is also a pride of Europe being the oldest sapling in the continent. This beautiful tree has inspired many poets and has also been the subject of several beautiful songs.
Apart from these 10 oldest trees, there are other old saplings which have survived the battle. For example, you can find General Sherman in the Sequoia National Park which is over 2000 years old.