The Pack Report

Current Top 5 Oldest living trees in the world.

Throughout the years there have been several trees to be featured as the top five oldest trees in the world. This list has continued to change as trees die and as older trees are discovered to this day! Duluth Pack wanted to share the current oldest trees in the world and where they are located. Each year Duluth Pack continues to plant thousands of trees with their Arbor Day Campaign. This campaign is called “Buy a pack. We Give back.” Since its beginning, Duluth Pack has planted over 25,000 trees. Along with this campaign Duluth Pack also carries a brand called Ten Tree and has planted an additional 24,000 trees with them. While these trees may not grow to be the oldest trees in the world, Duluth Pack is proud to give back to the community in this way.

Top 5 oldest Living Trees

#5 Gran Abuelo, Chile – 3,640 Years Old

Gran Abuelo, which translates to mean “great grandfather” is one of the oldest trees in the world that is still living. This tree is a Patagonian Cypress tree or an Alerce in Spanish. These trees are known for their resin that helps them to decompose slowly even in less ideal conditions. The resiliency of these trees has made them sought after for building material and is why many trees that were larger than Gran Abuelo were logged for building homes. This tree is in the Alerce Costero National Park in Chile. It is considered the oldest tree in South America and stands at 196’ and its circumference is roughly 36’. Despite this tree’s age and size you can still walk up to this tree and touch it if you ever get a chance to visit!

Just this year a news article in the Smithsonian has come out stating that this tree could even be much older according to one scientist’s study, but that has not been confirmed. An environmental Scientist who is studying this tree believes the tree could be closer to over 5,000 years old. This would make Gran Abuelo the oldest living tree in the world.

#4 Sarv-E Abarkuh (Zoroastrian Sarv), Iran  – 4000 Years Old

This cypress tree, Sarv-E Abarkuh is located in the Yazd province in Iran. This tree is celebrated as a national monument for Iran. Beyond this tree specifically though cypress trees carry an importance as well. Cypress Trees are often used in rituals for the dead to symbolize the eternal life that is experienced after death. This is because cypress trees are evergreens so they do not lose their leaves and appear to always be thriving. It is guessed that the Sarv-E Abarqu is most likely not only the 4th oldest living tree in the world but also the oldest living thing in Asia. Standing 82 feet tall and 59 feet in circumference this tree is truly a spectacle to see. You can visit this tree to see its immense stature when visiting Iran as it is a large tourist attraction.

#3 Llangernyw, North Wales – 4,500 Years Old

The ancient yew tree that ranks as the third oldest tree is still living in llangernyw, North Wales. This stunning tree is roughly 4,500 years old. This tree is in the small churchyard of St. Dygain’s Church in Llangernyw village, North Wales, United Kingdom. You can easily find this tree as it has a plaque marking its importance. In 2002 this beautiful tree was designated as one of 50 Great British trees by the Tree Council.

This tree also has importance beyond its age, as it is mentioned in Welsh mythology repeatedly in association to the spirit, Angelystor, or the “Recording Angel”. It is said that this Angel speaks a prophecy each Halloween stating which parishioners are destined to die before the next Halloween. Those who want to know if their name is among this list can sit beneath the east window of the church where the tree stands and listen for the names.  While some may not believe in this myth, it is closely tied to the story of this ancient Yew.

#2 Methuselah, California, United States – 4,847 Years Old

Methuselah is an ancient bristlecone pine that is located somewhere in the White Mountains of California in the Inyo National Forest. The name given to this tree, Methuselah is from the biblical patriarch Methuselah, who ostensibly lived to 969. This name is considered synonymous with longevity to many. The exact location of Methuselah is not disclosed to the public to protect this magnificent tree from potential harm. Before discovering Methuselah there was another bristlecone pine that was discovered and is older than Methuselah. Prometheus was 4,900 years old before it was cut down in 1964 by a researcher who was given permission from the U.S Forest Service.

#1 Old Tjikko, Sweden – 9,550 Years Old

This tree was first discovered in Sweden in 2008 and was declared the world’s oldest tree. It was named “Old Tjikko,” by Professor Leif Kullman who found the tree, in honor of his Siberian husky. What makes Old Tjikko interesting is that it is a clonal tree unlike the other trees on our list. A clonal tree is a tree system of genetically identical trees that remain connected through a single root system. These trees share water, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Tjikko is different from other clonal trees because while many clonal trees produce multiple trees Tjikko does not. Instead, Tjikko regenerates new trunks, roots, and branches in the same location.

To find the age of this ancient tree they used carbon dating of the root system and not by counting tree rings, as this tree regenerates.

How do you know how old a tree is?

To find a tree’s age without chopping down the tree you can take a core sample, or you can use carbon-dating techniques on the tree’s root system. With a core sample you will bore into the trunk of the tree to pull out a segment of the tree. From there you can count the rings of the tree to determine how many years of life the tree has. This system only works if the tree has not started to decay on the inside. With the carbon dating technique, you can test the root system for an accurate read on the age. Carbon-dating also allows you to accurately calculate the age of clonal trees as well.

Why do tree rings change in size?

When looking at a cross section or a “cookie” from a tree you see many rings. Each ring represents a year of that tree’s life and they vary in thickness and density. The center of the cookie is the beginning of the tree and each new layer will be the outermost layer. The larger the ring the more ideal the conditions were for the tree that year. Water is the largest contributor to the size of each ring as it is a large driver of growth. We can learn lots about history from trees in this way!

These five trees continue to live to this day and show us how vast the world is! With many of these trees accessible to the public, they are a wonder that you could one day see! Until that time though, you can walk in your local forests and understand a little more about our trees. Take some time to connect with nature by loading up your backpack with a sweatshirt, some food, and water, and take a long walk in nature to explore your own backyard!

We will leave you with a quote to ponder on your next adventure into the woods.

 I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.
– Henry David Thoreau

Happy adventuring, friends!

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