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How Old is the World’s Oldest Living Tree?

Here it is, in all its lonely glory: the world's oldest living tree.
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Here it is, in all its lonely glory: the world’s oldest living tree. Found in western Sweden, scientists believe that this spruce is 9,550 years old. Before, pine trees in North America had been called the oldest at 4,000 to 5,000 years old. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, a bristlecone pine named Methuselah in California’s White Mountains was aged 4,768. But this discovery changes that view dramatically.

Just to be clear about this: the tree itself is new. But scientists found a cluster of about 20 trees that are 5,660, 9,000 and 9,550 years old. They used carbon dating on the cones and wood, found underneath its crown, and that showed that its root system had been growing for 9,550 years. Spruce trees grow by cloning so they produce exact copies. It was explained that “while any individual tree growing in the area would itself not be more than a few hundred years old, any tree found on site over the centuries would be generated from the same genetic root system. There is constant turnover in what is actually growing above ground but genetically, the trees growing today are the same as those from thousands of years ago.” A fence is being erected around the tree to protect it from trophy hunters.


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