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Curious About the Oldest Tree in the World? Here Are 7 of Our Most Ancient Leafy Friends

Ever wonder what the oldest tree in the world is? Here's a list of ancient trees you have to see to believe, one of which is 13,000 years old!

Written by
Inga Vallery Phlegar
Published
January 20, 2022

Most trees can live for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Even the tree living in your backyard could be centuries old, living through history like it's no big deal. And while the world around the trees may change—we're looking at you, industrialization and deforestation—some are still standing tall up to 13,000 later.

Trees provide oxygen and improve air quality, provide habitats for wildlife, and can even be a reliable food source. And for many of us, those old trees in our yards are a staple to our homes. If you're curious about what wonders are awaiting beyond your backyard, check out this list of some of the oldest trees in the world to feed your curiosity.

7 of the Oldest Trees in the World

1. Methuselah

The Methuselah tree, a bristlecone pine, is one of the world's most ancient trees. It's roughly 4,853 years old, meaning it's older than Egypt's pyramids.

It lives in the Inyo National Forest, also known as the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, in California, which has a high density of bristlecone pines. The exact location of Methuselah is kept a secret to keep the tree safe.

2. Gran Abuelo

Translated to "great grandfather," the Gran Abuelo tree is one of South America's oldest living trees. It's estimated to be 3,622 years old. But, it's possible that the Gran Abuelo isn't even the oldest tree in the grove, as many in the area were logged.

This tree is a Patagonian cypress, and it's known for its straight grain, elasticity, and lightness—meaning this tree species was often used for building.

3. General Sherman

General Sherman is a beautiful giant. It's the world's largest tree by volume, standing at 275 feet tall and 36 feet wide at the base. However, it's not the tallest or widest tree in the world. The tree is a giant Sequoia, and it's located in the Giant Forest in California. It's thought to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old.

If you're ever visiting the Giant Forest, you can pay General Sherman a visit! It has a fence surrounding it to protect it, but you can still gaze up at all its beauty.

4. Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi

The Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is a sacred fig located in Mahamewna Gardens in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. At over 2,000 years old, it's the oldest tree to have a record of being planted.

It's also an important religious site for many Buddhists. The tree is said to be the location where Buddha found enlightenment.

5. Pando aka the Trembling Giant

When most of us think of trees, we think of stand-alone trees, with one root system and one trunk. Those are individual trees, but there's another type to consider: clonal colonies.

A clonal colony contains a shared root system, from which multiple trunks grow. Pando, a colony of quaking aspens, covers about 106 acres and has about 40,000 tree trunks.

While its exact age is difficult to calculate, experts say its growth most likely started at the end of the last Ice Age! It's located in Fishlake International Forest in Utah.

6. Old Tjikko

This Norway spruce may look frail and lack the grandiose stature we might expect from an ancient organism, but it's estimated to have been standing since the end of the Ice Age. That makes this tree over 9,000 years old!

Located in Fulufjallet National Park, Sweden, it's suspected that for much of its life, the ancient tree was just a small shrub. Only later in life did it become the whispy tree we see today. Old Tjikko is also a clonal colony, but to the non-botanist eyes, it looks like a single tree.

7. Jurupa Oak

Another ancient clonal colony is the Jurupa Oak located in the Jurupa Mountains in California. It resembles a collection of bushes and is estimated to be 13,000 years old!

The tree is only a few feet tall but over 70 feet wide. There are efforts to conserve this Palmer's oak, as it has survived numerous climate disturbances and is one of the oldest trees in the world.