16 April 2008

Europe’s oldest trees?

At an age of anywhere between 2,000 and 5,000 years old, the Fortingall Yew in Perthshire, Scotland was believed to be the oldest tree in Europe (It is likely to be nearer 2,000 years old rather than 5,000. The age of yews can’t be measured by counting tree rings). It would seem that it has lost this record: scientists have found a cluster of spruces in western Sweden which, at an age of up to 8,000 years, may even be the world's oldest living trees.


The Norway spruces were found in a mountain range that separates Norway and Sweden. Carbon dating of the trees carried out at a laboratory in Miami showed the oldest of them first set root about 8,000 years ago, making it the world's oldest known living tree, Two other spruces, also found in the course of climate change studies in the Swedish county of Dalarna, were shown to be 4,800 and 5,500 years old.

"These were the first woods that grew after the Ice Age," said Lars Hedlund, responsible for environmental surveys in the county of Dalarna, Sweden "That means that when you speak of climate change today, you can in these (trees) see pretty much every single climate change that has occurred."

California's "Methuselah" tree, a Great Basin bristlecone pine, is often cited as the world's oldest living tree with a recorded age of between 4,500 and 5,000 years.

14 comments:

eastcoastlife said...

Wow! For trees which are a few thousand years old, they must have seen a lot in their lifetime!

SnoopyTheGoon said...

No worries. Americans will find a fitting answer soon, even if it will involve cutting down all the trees in NA ;-)

Gattina said...

And for the Spanish the oldest tree is in Tenerife the Canarian Islands, at least it was written under the tree !

jams o donnell said...

They will be a record of the climate in the area for millennia. That will be an excellent source of data, eastcoastlife.

I can imagine an American logging team heading to Sweden right away Snoopy!

I bet it was ancient Gttina

The Lone Beader said...

The previous oldest tree, Prometheus, was cut down by some idiot! So, now, Methuselah's location is being kept secret.

Semaj Mahgih said...

Makes me feel positively sprightly.

jams o donnell said...

That's a sad situation but you've got to protect against idiots, LB

Me too James, me too!

Sue "Sioux" Seibert said...

Interesting and amazing!

ELASTICWAISTBANDLADY said...

It takes thousands of years to grow them, and only one construction company a month to bulldoze all of them and make toilet paper.

jmb said...

I liked this post. I had no idea that there were living trees this old. It is truly amazing.

jams o donnell said...

Glad you found this interesting Sue

THat is sadly so true EWBL

It is utterly amazing jmb

Liz said...

That is incredible, jams. Husband has a book 'Meetings with Remarkable Trees' and I just looked to see if the yew was in there but it's not. The focus is more on tallest, weirdest, most historic. Fabulous trees all of them though.

Anonymous said...

These trees are actually clones - the trunks last about 600 years. The root system carries the ancient record but there could be obvious difficulties attemping to core them.
You don't chop a tree down to measure it's age. These were carbon dated.

jams o donnell said...

The not-wife has two of Thomas Pakenham's books. I remember his tv series. Interesting

That true Aileni but the root stock is ancient and that is amazing!