Read on for our fascinating list of 10 of the oldest living trees in the world (and a bonus data visualisation)!
In this article we are going to look at the oldest surviving trees – meaning trees that are still alive today and have a verified age.
Before we get started though lets have a quick look at the oldest trees known to have ever existed.
Discovered in New York State in 2007, Wattieza is considered to be the first known tree, existing as early as 385 million years ago during the Middle Devonian period.
Prior to this Archaeopteris was considered to be the oldest ever tree, found in the fossil index in the Upper Devonian to Lower Carboniferous period (383 to 323 million years ago).
One tree that you will unfortunately not find on the below list of living trees is Prometheus, the stump and remains of which can be found on Wheeler Peak in eastern Nevada, USA.
In 1964 the Great Basin bristlecone pine was cut down by a research student who didn’t realise that at the time it would have been the oldest known living non-clonal tree in the world.
Named after the mythical figure Prometheus who stole fire from the gods and gave it to man, the tree was thought to be at least 4,862 years old.
10 Oldest Living Non-clonal Trees by Age
We put together a data visualisation of the 10 oldest non-clonal trees by age.
Created by CSW 2018 – feel free to re-use with credit.
Data source: Ages: Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research, Names: RMTRR & Independent research (sources in this article)
Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi (Bo-Tree) – Mahamewna Gardens, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Said to be the tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is the oldest living human-planted tree in the world, with a known planting date of exactly 288 BC – 2,304 years ago as of 2017.
The Sacred fig or Ficus religiosa tree is protected from monkeys and bats by other surrounding fig trees, and in 2014 the Sri Lankan government banned all construction within 500m of the tree.
Age: 2,304 years old
The President – Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park, California, USA
A giant sequoia, the President is the third largest tree in the world measured by the volume of trunk, and verified to be the fifth oldest non-clonal tree in the world.
As of 2012 the volume of the trunk was measured to be 1,300 cubic meters.
Age: 3,200 years old
Oliveira do Mouchão – Mouriscas, Abrantes, Portugal
Oliveira do Mouchão is a European olive tree in Portugal and one of the oldest trees in Europe.
At one point before it’s age was verified the tree was in danger of being destroyed to make way for a roundabout.
Along with the Olive tree of Vouves in Crete, Greece, it is one of the oldest living olive trees in the world, still producing olives today and having done so for millennia past.
Age: 3,350 years old
El Gran Abuelo – Alerce Costero National Park, Chile
The Gran Abuelo or Alerce Milenario tree is thought to be 3,622 years old.
The species the tree belongs to was named Fitzroya cupressoides by none other than Charles Darwin, after the captain of his ship Robert FitzRoy.
Age: 3,622 years old
Llangernyw Yew – Conwy, North Wales, UK
The Llangernyw Yew is an ancient male Yew tree that lives in the churchyard of Saint Digain’s Church in Llangernyw village, North Wales.
The centre of the tree has been lost, leaving several huge offshoots.
Getting the exact age of the tree has proven to be hard, but according to a campaign in 2002 it is thought to be between 4,000 and 5,000 years old.
Age: 4,000 – 5,000 years old
Methuselah – White Mountains, California, USA
This incredible area in California is home to several of the oldest known surviving trees in the world.
Methuselah is the second oldest known living tree in this region, dated at 4845 years old.
A Pinus longaeva tree, Methuselah was previously considered to be the oldest known living non-clonal organism in the world, until it was superseded in 2012 by the current number 1.
Age: 4,845 years old
Old Hara – White Mountains, California, USA
Old Hara is the oldest non-clonal tree in the world, and has a fascinating story behind it.
Pinus longaeva, also known as the Great Basin bristlecone pine, is a long-living species of bristlecone pine found high in the mountains of California, Nevada, and Utah.
Old Hara is the oldest known age-verified living non-clonal tree at 5,067 years old, and is found in White Mountains, California.
The tree was cored by Edmund Schulman in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until after his death in 2012 that the tree was dated by Tom Harlan and found to be 5,067 years old – making it the oldest non-clonal organism in the world.
The exact location of Old Hara is kept a secret to protect it and we were unable to find any images of the tree after hours of searching.
Age: 5,067 years old
Old Tjikko – Fulufjället, Dalama, Sweden
Estimated to be at least 9,558 years in age, Old Tjikko is a clonal tree, which means that it has regenerated new branches, trunks and roots over the millennia.
Old Tjikko is the third oldest clonal tree, and the oldest Picea abies in the world.
In other locations in the Fulufjället mountains over 20 different plants have been found that are thought to be more than 8,000 years old.
Age: 9,558 years old
Jurupa Oak – Riverside County, California, USA
Jurupa Oak is a clonal colony of Quercus palmeri trees in Biggers Crestmore Heights, California.
Considered to be the oldest plant in California and the second oldest clonal plant in the world, the Jurupa Oak has survived bush fires and the ravages of 13,000 years by regenerating itself.
Age: 13,000 years old
Pando – Fishlake National Forest, Utah, USA
Also known as the Trembling Giant, Pando is a huge clonal colony of male quaking aspen that has been determined to be one single organism.
Over 80,000 years old, Pando is the oldest known clonal tree colony in the world, and at an estimated 6,000,000 kilograms it is also the heaviest known living organism in the world.
Age: 80,000 years old
Thanks for reading! If we have missed a tree out please feel free to leave a comment below.
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You might also enjoy our post 10 of the Oldest Suriving Gardens in the World.