Tuesday, June 12, 2012

10 Oldest Living Trees On The Planet


Methuselah

At 4,841 years old, this ancient bristlecone pine is the oldest known non-clonal organism on Earth. Located in the White Mountains of California, in Inyo National Forest, Methuselah's exact location is kept a close secret in order to protect it from the public. (An older specimen named Prometheus, which was more than 5,000 years old, was cut down by a U.S. Forest Service graduate student in 1964.) Today you can visit the grove where Methuselah hides, but you'll have to guess at which tree it is. Could this one be it?


What happened to Prometheus you ask?

In 1964 while studying Methuselah and the bristlecone pines, Donald Curry got his bore instrument stuck while sampling one of the trees. He had received a permit to cut down one tree for study so he decided to cut down the tree with his stuck bore. It turns out he cut down the oldest tree ever found - over 4900 years old.

Sarv-e Abarqu
Sarv-e Abarqu, also called the "Zoroastrian Sarv," is a cypress tree in Yazd province, Iran. The tree is estimated to be at least 4,000 years old and, having lived through the dawn of human civilization not far away, it is considered an Iranian national monument. Many have noted that Sarv-e Abarqu is most likely the oldest living thing in Asia.



Llangernyw Yew
This incredible yew resides in a small churchyard of St. Dygain's Church in Llangernyw village, north Wales. About 4,000 years old, the Llangernyw Yew was planted sometime in the prehistoric Bronze Age — and it's still growing! In 2002, in celebration of the golden jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, the tree was designated as one of 50 Great British trees by the Tree Council.



Alerce
The Alerce is a common name for Fitzroya cupressoides, a towering tree species native to the Andes mountains. There's almost no telling how old these trees can get, since most of the larger specimens were heavily logged in the 19th and 20th centuries. Many botanists believe they are the second-longest living trees on Earth aside from the bristlecone pine of North America. To date, the oldest known living specimen is 3,640 years old.



The Senator
The Senator, located in Florida, is the largest bald cypress tree in the United States, and it is widely considered the oldest of its species known to exist. It is likely the largest U.S. tree of any species east of the Mississippi River. Estimated to be around 3,500 years old, the Senator was used as a landmark for the Seminole indians and other native tribes. The Senator's size is particularly impressive because it has endured many hurricanes, including one in 1925 which reduced its height by 40 feet.

The tree gets its name from from Sen. M.O. Overstreet, who donated the tree and surrounding land in 1927.

Update 1.17.12: It is with a heavy heart that we report that 'The Senator' has burned to the ground


What? How?

A 26-year-old Orlando-area woman has been charged with setting the January fire that burned and destroyed 'The Senator', one of the world's oldest pond cypress trees and a beloved local attraction.

Investigators said tips to a crime hotline led them to Sara Barnes, who allegedly took photos of the fire she started inside the popular 118-foot-high hollow tree and uploaded them to her laptop, reports WKMG. According to WESH, Barnes told police she regularly visited the spot in Longwood's Big Tree Park to use drugs, and lit a fire the night of January 16 in order to see better.

"She did not call the Fire Department or 911 to report the fire," Florida Department of Agriculture spokesman Sterling Ivey told the Orlando Sentinel. "It's a great fuel source. Unfortunately."

The fire, which burned the tree from the inside out for several hours, caused a 20-foot section of the mighty bald cypress to fall from the top before the rest of the tree collapsed. Investigators initially ruled out arson and theorized that a lightning strike may have caused the fire.

Not only was Barnes charged with malicious burning of land, a third-degree felony, but police found drugs in her home while executing a search warrant. She now faces additional charges of possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia.

While Barnes sits in Seminole County jail on $5,950 total bond, WESH reports members of the public have taken their anger over The Senator's demise to her Facebook page:

"Burn in hell, you horror of a human," one person told Barnes, while another wrote, "I hope you get some 'jail house justice' in Seminole County Jail."

The tree, which was a whopping 18 feet wide, was named for a state senator in the 1920s who donated the land that is now Big Tree Park. Former President Calvin Coolidge commemorated the tree with a plaque in 1929.

Orlando resident Jillian McClung said she was deeply saddened over the loss of a piece of history: "Very few things stood the test of time the way the Senator had 

Patriarca da Floresta
This tree, an example of the species Cariniana legalis named Patriarca da Floresta in Brazil, is estimated to be about 3,000 years old, making it the oldest non-conifer in Brazil. The tree is believed to be sacred, but its species is widely threatened due to forest clearing in Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela



Olive Tree of Vouves
This ancient olive tree is located on the Greek island of Crete and is one of seven olive trees in the Mediterranean believed to be at least 2,000 to 3,000 years old. Although its exact age cannot be verified, the Olive Tree of Vouves might be the oldest among them, estimated at over 3,000 years old. It still produces olives, and they are highly prized. Olive trees are hardy and drought-, disease- and fire-resistant — part of the reason for their longevity and their widespread use in the region.




J?mon Sugi
J?mon Sugi, located in Yakushima, Japan, is the oldest and largest cryptomeria tree on the island, and is one of many reasons why the island was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tree dates to at least 2,000 years old, but some experts believe it could be older than 5,000 years old. Under that theory, it's possible that J?mon Sugi is the oldest tree in the world — even older than Methuselah. Regardless of the numbers, it's a tree that deserves mention here.



Chestnut Tree of One Hundred Horses
This tree, located on Mount Etna in Sicily, is the largest and oldest known chestnut tree in the world. Believed to be between 2,000 and 4,000 years old, this tree's age is particularly impressive because Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The tree sits only 5 miles from Etna's crater. The tree's name originated from a legend in which a company of 100 knights were caught in a severe thunderstorm. According to the legend, all of them were able to take shelter under the massive tree. It is listed by Guinness World Records as having the "greatest tree girth ever," at 190 feet in circumference.



General Sherman
Believed to be around 2,500 years old, General Sherman is the mightiest giant sequoia still standing. The volume of its trunk alone makes it the largest non-clonal tree by volume in the world, even though its largest branch broke off in 2006, smashing part of its enclosing fence and cratering the pavement of the surrounding walkway. Perhaps this was a sign that General Sherman could not be caged in? Sherman can be found in Sequoia National Park in California, where five of the 10 largest trees in the world exist.





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