oldest living tree discovered in Sweden
by James Owen in Stockholm, Sweden
for National Geographic News
The world’s oldest known living tree, a conifer that first took root at the end of the last Ice Age, has been discovered in Sweden, researchers say. The visible portion of the 13-foot-tall (4-meter-tall) “Christmas tree” isn’t ancient, but its root system has been growing for 9,550 years, according to a team led by Leif Kullman, professor at Umeå University’s department of ecology and environmental science in Sweden.
Discovered in 2004, the lone Norway spruce—of the species traditionally used to decorate European homes during Christmas—represents the planet’s longest-lived identified plant, Kullman said.
The researchers found the shrubby mountain survivor at an altitude of 2,985 feet (910 meters) in Dalarna Province.
The tree’s incredible longevity is largely due to its ability to clone itself, Kullman said.