A bristlecone pine is the oldest tree in the world.
Credit: Thomas Ramsauer | Shutterstock.com
Until 2013, the oldest individual tree in the world was Methuselah, a 4,845-year-old Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) in the White Mountains of California.
But then researchers announced the dating of a 5,062-year-old P. longaeva, which isalso in the White Mountains, according to the Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research group. The tree has not yet been named.
The next oldest tree on the list is a national monument in Iran: The Zoroastrian Sarv (Sarv-e-Abarkooh), estimated to be about 4,000 years old, or older. This Mediterranean cypress tree (Cupressus sempervirens), which is in Abarkuh, Yazd, Iran, may well be the oldest living thing in Asia.
Living in a churchyard of the Llangernyw village in North Wales, the Llangernyw Yew is also estimated to be at least 4,000 yeas old. The yew tree (Taxus baccata) is believed to have taken root sometime during Britain's Bronze Age.
And on the other side of the world, in an Andes Mountains grove in Chile, we have a 3,642-year-old Patagonian cypress (Fitzroya cupressoides). The ancient specimen, which is sometimes called the Alerce (alerce is a common Spanish name for F. cupressoides), is the third-oldest tree to have its exact age calculated.
Though these are the oldest individual trees in the world, they are technically not the oldest living organisms. There are several clonal colonies — which are made up of genetically identical trees connected by a single root system — that are much older.
For example, the Pando, or "trembling giant," is a clonal colony of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) estimated to be an astounding 80,000 years old. It is located in Fishlake National Forest in south-central Utah.