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Posted by on Aug 8, 2016 in Tell Me Why |

What Trees Live Longest?

What Trees Live Longest?

The oldest trees in the world are the bristlecone pines. These twisted, gnarled trees live high in the White Mountains of California. They grow slowly – often less than one inch in diameter every 100 years! The oldest living bristlecone is Methuselah. This tree was already 2,600 years old when Christ was born. And today, at 4,600 years old, it still lives.

Scientists believe these ancient trees can live 5,000 years. You can see these trees in a section of the Inyo National Forest in California, where about 100 of them are more than 4,600 years old.

Trees listed by age and species includes trees for which a minimum age has been directly determined, either through counting or cross-referencing tree rings or through radiocarbon dating. Many of these trees may be even older than their listed ages, but the oldest wood in the tree has rotted away.

For some old trees, so much of the centre is missing that their age cannot be directly determined. Instead, estimates are made based on the tree’s size and presumed growth rate. Then included are the trees with these estimated ages. Last inclusion is of clonal colonies in which no individual tree trunks may be remarkably old but in which the organism as a whole is thought to be very old.

  • A Great Basin Bristlecone Pine is measured by ring count to be 5065 years old. This is the oldest known tree in North America, and the oldest known living individual non-clonal tree in the world.
  • Llangernyw Yew may be the oldest individual tree in Europe and second or third oldest individual tree in the world. Believed to be aged between 4,000 years and 5,000 years old, this ancient yew is in the churchyard of the village of Llangernyw in North Wales.
  • Fortingall Yew, an ancient yew in the churchyard of the village of Fortingall in Perthshire, Scotland; one of the oldest known individual trees in Europe. Various estimates have put its age at between 2000 and 5000 years, although these days it is believed to be at the lower end of this range.
  • Fitzroya cupressoides is the species with the second oldest verified age, a specimen in Chile being measured by ring count as 3,622 years old.
  • A Sacred Fig, the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, is 2,300 years old (planted in 288 BC). It is the oldest known living to date human-planted tree in the world.
  • A specimen of Lagarostrobos franklinii in Tasmania is thought to be about 2000 years old.
  • Numerous olive trees are purported to be 2000 years old or older. An olive tree in Ano Vouves, Crete, claiming such longevity, has been confirmed on the basis of tree ring analysis.
  • Jōmon Sugi, the cryptomeria naturally grown in Yakushima Island, Kagoshima, Japan, more than 2,170 to 7,200 years old.
  • Great sugi of Kayano, the cryptomeria deemed planted by humans in Kaga, Ishikawa, Japan, estimated age of 2,300 years in 1928.
  • Welwitschia is a monotypic genus of gymnosperm plant, composed solely of the distinct Welwitschia mirabilis. It is the only genus of the family Welwitschiaceae, in the order Welwitschiales, in the division Gnetophyta. The plant is considered a living fossil. Radiocarbon dating has confirmed that there are many individuals which have lived longer than 1000 years, and some are suspected to be older than 2000 years.
  • Yareta is a tiny flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to South America, occurring in the Puna grasslands of the Andes in Peru, Bolivia, the north of Chile and the west of Argentina at between 3,200 and 4,500 metres altitude. Some yaretas could be up to 3,000 years old.

Content for this question contributed by Melissa Yonkers, resident of Rothbury, Grant Township, Oceana County, Michigan, USA