In existence for nearly 370 million years, trees have stood sentry over this planet. They have silently watched the rise and fall of dinosaurs, continents, and every human endeavor. Long revered by mankind for their longevity, trees have withstood every conceivable condition on earth. While all trees are successful survivors, some are uncanny in their ability to endure. Below is a list of the top three oldest trees known to man.
At number three, the olive tree proves it is one of the world’s hardiest species. Resistant to drought, disease, and even fire, the olive tree has witnessed the birth of Christ and the rise and fall of countless human empires. Consequently, this tree has gone on to survive into the modern age. In particular, the olive tree of Vouves on the Greek island of Crete is one of seven of its kind in the Mediterranean believed to be between 2,000 and 3,000 years old. Amazingly, the olive tree of Vouves continues to produce olives, proving that three millennia can’t stop a tree from doing what it does best.
Chile is home to the second oldest tree species in the world. A tall, Patagonian cypress native to the mountains of the Andes mountains, “Gran Abuelo” or “Alerce Milenario” was verified in 1993 to be 3,645 years old. This magnificent conifer is 4.5 meters across and more than 60 meters tall and can be seen up close and personal on a hiking route in Alerce Costero National Park. Much larger specimens reportedly existed prior to heavy logging that took place in the 19th and 20th centuries. Allegedly, Charles Darwin once claimed he found a specimen of Patagonian cypress more than 12 meters in diameter.
The bristlecone pines of California come in at the very top of the list for the oldest trees known to man. Methuselah, a 4,848 year old bristlecone found in the White Mountains of eastern California, was once thought to be the world’s oldest tree. In 2012, however, Methuselah was usurped by another bristlecone pine found in the same mountain range. Though this tree remains unnamed and it’s location kept secret, it has been carbon-dated at a whopping 5,066 years old.
Trees have shown their amazing ability to adapt and survive over hundreds of millions of years. In numbers nearly 3 trillion strong today, they continue to astonish and inspire the human race with their endurance and longevity.