Here is what you should know about the oldest tree on earth!
The importance of trees to the environment and humanity cannot be overstated. Humans have always interacted with and relied on trees for food, shelter, and several other benefits.
Now, the age of trees has always fascinated humans. People want to know how old a tree is.
What Is The Oldest Tree In The World?
Now the question is; has the oldest tree in the world been identified? If so, how old is the oldest tree? This is the focus of our discussion. Here, you’ll learn all about that and more.
How was the age of the oldest tree in the world determined?
Estimating the Age of The Oldest Tree On Earth
Before we get into specifics on the oldest tree in the world, it’s necessary to first consider how much age is arrived at or estimated. To determine the age of a tree, certain key factors are used.
These include the tree’s circumference, its diameter, as well as its growth factor.
It’s not hard to figure out the circumference of a tree. All you have to do is find a measuring tape and wrap it around the tree.
To obtain its exact circumference, such measurement will need to be done from at least 4.5 inches from the ground. The circumference is the inches around the tree.
The reading or measurement obtained by measuring the circumference isn’t used in isolation. To obtain the diameter, you’ll have to divide the circumference by pi (3.14).
With the diameter obtained, this is multiplied by the tree’s growth factor to arrive at an approximate age.
The growth factor is a numerical value or simple number assigned to trees. Different trees have their unique growth factors.
For example, the Norway Spruce has a growth factor of 5, the same applies to a Paper Birch, while a Black Walnut has a 4.5 growth factor.
There’s a more detailed scientific approach applied to tree measurement.
This is known as dendrochronology. It is the science of dating tree rings and offers a more detailed answer that estimates how long a tree has existed.
Where Is The World’s Oldest Living Tree?
Coming back to the focus of our discussion, what tree is the oldest in the world, and how old is it? This question will interest almost anyone with an appreciable level of curiosity.
With this said, has the oldest tree in the world been identified? If so, how old is it?
Yes, the oldest tree in the world has been identified. It’s known as the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine.
Located in the White Mountains, California, USA, it is estimated to be 5,066 years old! This non-clonal tree species has overcome and survived adverse weather and climatic conditions to emerge as the oldest.
The actual identity of the world’s oldest individual tree has been hidden to protect it. While it’s known to be a Great Basin Bristlecone pine, that’s as far as is known in the public domain.
There are several trees of this species that have also been included among the world’s oldest trees.
Before the discovery of the 5,066-year-old tree in 2012, the Methuselah was earlier thought of as the world’s oldest. Today, it’s the world’s second-oldest tree with an estimated age of 4,848 years.
The Methuselah was discovered in 1957.
Also a great basin bristlecone pine, the Methuselah’s exact location has not been provided. However, its general location is in Inyo County, California, USA.
So, what other trees make up the top 10 of the world’s oldest trees? Let’s have a look.
Other Ancient Trees in the World’s Top 10 List
While our main focus has been about identifying the world’s oldest tree, it’s necessary to also include others within the top 10. So far, the top two have been mentioned.
At number 3 is the Prometheus located at Wheeler Park, Nevada, USA. This tree is 4,844 years old!
The fourth oldest tree in the world is the Patagonian Cypress located in Cordillera Pelada, Los Rios, Chile. The Patagonian Cypress is approximately 3,646 years old!
Other ancient trees include the European Olive Tree which comes at 5th position.
The European Olive Tree is located in Mouriscas, Abrantes, Portugal. It is estimated to be 3,350 years old. Next on the top 10 list of oldest trees is the Giant Sequoia at number 6.
Located in Sierra, Nevada, California, USA, the Giant Sequoia is 3,266 years old.
At 7th position is another Giant Sequoia. It’s also located in Sierra, Nevada, California, USA. The world’s 7th oldest tree is 3,220 years old. At 8th, 9th, and 10th position are Giant Sequoias.
All located in Sierra, Nevada, California, USA, they’re 3,200, 3,075, and 3,033 years old respectively.
How Dendrochronology Helps with Dating
As earlier stated, we said dendrochronology is the scientific technique through which tree dating is done. To identify the world’s oldest trees, scientists applied this technique to arrive at the current findings.
Here, tree rings need to be counted to determine their age. While this is true, counting the rings will require the tree to be cut down right?
Not exactly true. While cutting down a tree allows for easy calculation of its rings, a better technique is applied that doesn’t require felling the tree.
Instead of felling, a special tool is used to drill through the trunk of the tree.
This provides a cross-section of its rings which are counted. So, while the age of the tree is known, the tree isn’t destroyed and continues to grow.
Is the World’s Oldest Individual Tree Still Alive?
The world’s oldest individual tree still stands to this day. One of the secrets to its success is its ability to grow in difficult terrain.
The world’s oldest trees are mostly found growing in areas where other tree species will hardly thrive. This has made it impossible for forest fires to destroy them.
Future Discoveries Might Find Older Trees
As always, there are constant discoveries that result in new knowledge. Before the world’s oldest tree was discovered in 2012, the Methuselah was considered the oldest.
There’s a possibility that future discoveries might result in the great basin bristlecone pine being dethroned.
We’ve learned so far that the world’s oldest tree is 5,066 years old.
Also included in our discussion are other ancient trees that make up the top 10 oldest on the planet.