What is it about trees that make them so captivating? Is it the fact that they’ve stood the test of time for millennia? Is it the way they go through the cycle of birth, death and rebirth throughout the cycle of the seasons?
When you think about a tree, what qualities comes to mind? Perhaps strength, silence, steadfastness, flexibility, to name a few. Trees hold a special significance in many religions and spiritual paths. They signify knowledge, the cycle of birth and death, enlightenment, transformation. For some cultures, trees are to be revered and are sites of pilgrimage and worship.
Trees carry with them a sense of grandeur and wisdom. In the presence of an ancient tree it’s difficult to not stop to wonder – what has this tree seen? Many trees have borne witness to the rise and fall of many civilizations. Through it all they inspire generation upon generation of humans to strive to achieve the same quiet elegance and wisdom that they embody.
What are some of the oldest trees in the world, and where can they be found, you might wonder?
To answer your question, here is a list of 10 of some of the oldest trees in the world. There are different ways of ranking and classifying the age of trees. For the purpose of this list, the trees and tree colonies included are those that have been verified by carbon dating.
10 - Jaya Shri Maha Bodhi (2302 years old)
The sacred fig tree – found in the Mahamewna Gardens of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. This tree is said to be a sapling from the very tree, the Sri Maha Bodhi tree of Bodh Gaya, under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. The sapling was taken to Sri Lanka and planted in 249 BC. It is the oldest living, human-planed tree in the world that has a documented planting date. Buddhists around the world recognize this tree as one of the most sacred and revered relics, and many people make a pilgrimage to this site each year.
9 - The President Tree (3200 years old)
This majestic sequoia tree resides in the Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park in California, USA. The President is not the tallest tree in the world, yet, it is the third largest tree in the world when ranked by the volume of its trunk. In tree symbolism, the sequoia signifies longevity of life, as well as aiming for the highest in life and living your dreams.
8 – Gran Abuelo (3645 years old)
Found in Alerce Costero National Park, located in Los Rios, Chile, this “Great Grandfather” tree Patagonian Cyprus. Remains found at the site of Monte Verde hint that these trees were used over 13,000 years ago for making tools and weapons. During the time of the Spanish Conquest of South America, these trees became an important source of timber and currency in the region. Today, they are protected by the government, and logging them is illegal.
7 – Methusela (4847 years old)
A great basin bristlecone pine, for the longest time, thought to the oldest – lone standing (non-clonal) tree in the world, this tree can be found in Inyo County California, USA. In 2012, another tree in the same area was discovered and revealed to be a few hundred years older.
6 - Old Hara (5065 yeard old)
A great basin bristlecone pine, the tree that in 2012, was discovered to be the oldest, non clonal tree in the world – usurping Methusela’s title.
5 – Old Huon Pine (3,000 – 10,000 years old)
Found in Mount Read, Tasmania, Australia, while some of the individual trees amount to only being about 3,000 years old, the clonal grove that they are a part of has stood for over 10,000 years.
4 – Old Rasmus (9,500 years old)
This Norway Spruce, can be found in Härjedalen, Sweden, a province of Sweden that originally belonged to Norway, but was ceded to Sweden in 1645. The tree is named for the dog of the scientist who discovered it.
3 – Old Tjikko (9,550 years old)
Norway Spruce found in Fulufjället National Park, Dalarna, Sweden is around the same age as Old Rasmus. Carbon dating makes it difficult to ascertain which one is older. At the moment, it seems that Old Tjikko is older. This tree is also named for one of the dogs that were part of the team that did the research field work regarding the ages of these trees.
2 – Jurupa Oak (13,000 years old)
Palmer Oak grove found in the Jurupa Mountains of California, USA. A clonal tree – the entire grove of gnarled, stunted trees makes up one organism. Initially it was overlooked and thought to be an isolated grove of trees until scientists looked more closely at the trees – noting that they did not produce fertile acorns, therefore they had to be a clonal tree.
1 – Pando (80,000 – 1,000,000 years old)
This quiet, trembling giant - quaking aspen grove found in Fishlake National Forest, Utah, USA spans over 107 acres and has over 47,000 stems. The combined weight of the stems and root system make this the heaviest organism in the world at just over 6000 tons. Thus, making it not only the oldest tree system, but also the heaviest.