7 Oldest Trees in the World

Although humanity is destroying the planet quicker than Mother Nature can recover, fortunately there are still natural wonders in this world that have survived for thousands of years. All of the trees on this list are/were at least 3,500 years old – unfortunately a few of these ancient giants were destroyed by human hands.

The rest of the surviving trees on this list are protected to prevent their destruction and one of the oldest even has a secret location not disclosed to the public. With continued conservation efforts, hopefully these trees will live for thousands of years more.

7. The Senator

Age: estimated to be 3,500 years
Species: Pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens)
Location: Longwood, Florida
Still Alive: No

The Senatorphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

The Senator was one of the oldest and biggest bald cypress trees in the world with an estimated age of 3,500 years. Prior to its demise, The Senator was 36 m tall (118 ft) with a circumference of 10.7 m (35 ft) – the tree was originally 50 m (165 ft) tall, but the top was damaged by a hurricane in 1925. 

Unfortunately, the tree was destroyed by a fire in 2012, which was started by Sarah Barnes and a friend who were smoking inside the tree; she left the fire burning which destroyed the tree from the inside out. In 2014, a 50-foot-tall clone of The Senator (one of 10 trees cloned from The Senator in the 1990s) was planted in the park and named “The Phoenix.”


6. Gran Abuelo

Age: 3,646 years
Species: Patagonian Cypress (Fitzroya cupressoides)
Location: Alerce Costero National Park, Chile
Still Alive: Yes

Gran Abuelo photo source: New Atlas

The Gran Abuelo (Spanish for “great grandfather”), which is located in the Alerce Costero National Park in Chile, is the oldest living tree in South America. The tree stands at more than 60 m tall (196 ft) with a diameter of 4 m (13 ft) and a perimeter of 11 m (36 ft). Gran Abuelo’s age was determined in 1993 after researchers used a growth ring to verify its antiquity – they estimated that the tree was around 3,622 years old at the time.

Its age means that the Gran Abuelo germinated around 1,500 BCE. There is a possibility that the Gran Abuelo wasn’t even the oldest tree in the grove as many of the larger ones were logged in the past.


5. Sarv-e Abarkuh

Age: estimated to be between 4,000 – 5,000 years old
Species: Mediterranean cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
Location: Abarkuh, Iran
Still Alive: Yes

Sarv-e Abarkuh photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Sarv-e Abarkuh (Abarkuh Cypress) is believed to be one of the oldest trees in the world as its age is estimated to be between 4,000 – 5,000 years. It is hard to place an exact age on the tree, but it has been cultivated for many years. Legend says that the tree was planted by Zoroaster, an Iranian prophet, or Japheth, the third son of the Biblical figure Noah.

The tree is a national natural monument and is protected by the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran. The tree’s large size and legendary history and age have made it one of the most popular attractions in the city of Abarkuh.


4. Llangernyw Yew

Age: estimated to be between 4,000 – 5,000 years
Species: Common Yew (Taxus baccata)
Location: Conwy, Wales
Still Alive: Yes

Llangernyw Yewphoto source: geograph.org.uk

The Llangernyw Yew’s age is estimated to be between 4,000 – 5,000 years old. Dating yew trees is often difficult as the core has been lost, with several large offshoots growing out of the tree’s central area. The yew is located in the churchyard of St. Digain’s Church in the Llangernyw village and the church has a certificate signed by David Bellamy, English botanist, author, broadcaster, and environmental campaigner, saying the tree is 4,000 – 5,000 years old based on thousands of years of written records.

The tree holds a special place in Welsh mythology as it is associated with the spirit Angelystor (the “Recording Angel”) who comes every Halloween to foretell which of the parishioners will die the following year.


3. Methuselah

Age: 4,849 years
Species: Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) 
Location: Inyo County, California, USA
Still Alive: Yes

Methuselah photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Until 2012, Methuselah was the oldest known tree in the world and its age (4,789 years at the time) was discovered in 1957 by Tom Harlan and Edmund Schulman. The tree is named for the oldest Biblical figure, Methuselah, who lived to be 969 years old.

It grows in Methuselah Grove in the White Mountains of Inyo County, California, where it is surrounded by other ancient trees, and its exact location is unknown to the public to keep the tree safe from vandalism. Based on the tree’s age, it is estimated that Methuselah germinated around 2832 BCE, making it older than the famous Egyptian pyramids.


2. Prometheus

Age: 4,862 years
Species: Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva)
Location: Wheeler Peak, Nevada, USA
Still Alive: No

Prometheusphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Prometheusphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Prior to its demise in 1964, Prometheus was one of the oldest trees in the world and at the time, it was even older than Methuselah. The tree was located in a grove of several old trees in Wheeler Park, Nevada. In 1964, geographer Donald R. Currey was given permission from the Forest Service to take a core sample of the tree to determine its age, which he suspected was over 4,000 years.

Unfortunately, Currey’s extraction went awry and the entire tree was cut down. Researchers counted 4,862 growth rings on the core sample, but estimate that the tree may have been at least 4,900 years old as it likely did not grow a ring every year due to the area’s harsh conditions.


1. Unnamed Great Basin Bristlecone Pine

Age: 5,067 years
Species: Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva)
Location: Inyo County, California, USA
Still Alive: Yes

Unnamed Great Basin Bristlecone Pine photo source:Wikipedia

This unnamed Great Basin bristlecone pine is currently the oldest confirmed tree in the world. It was named the oldest tree in 2012, beating the previous record holder by over 200 years. The tree was cored by Edmund Schulman in the late 1950s, but he did not have a chance to date his sample before he passed away in 1958.

The tree’s age was later determined by Tom Harlan in 2010, who was working on the samples Schulman collected before he also died. The tree is still alive, and in 2012 its age was given as 5,062 years.

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There are 4 comments

  1. 7. The Senator
    Age: estimated to be 3,500 years
    Location: Longwood, Florida

    Just to give you and FYI. That tree was burned down by a homeless person about a year ago. The tree was in a park located on a street name, “Big Tree Park Rd”. The street is now names “General Hutchison Parkway”.

    Reply

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