Celebrating at Least 1,075 Years, This Pine Could Be Europe’s Oldest Tree

Oldest living tree

A Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii) growing in the Pindos Mountains in northern Greece has been dendrochronologically dated to be more than 1075 years old, making it the oldest presently known living tree in Europe.

A Bosnian pine
A Bosnian pine

The special pine was discovered by scientists from Stockholm University (Sweden), the University of Mainz (Germany) and the University of Arizona (USA).

The millennium-old tree and others of its kind were discovered during research expeditions conducted by the Navarino Environmental Observatory (NEO), a cooperation between Stockholm University, the Academy of Athens and TEMES S.A. The observatory studies climate change and its impact on the environment and humans in the Mediterranean.

“It is quite remarkable that this large, complex and impressive organism has survived so long in such an inhospitable environment, in a land that has been civilised for over 3000 years,” says Swedish dendrochronologist Paul J. Krusic, leader of the expedition that found the tree.

It's one of more than a dozen individuals of millennial age living in a tree-line forest high in the Pindos mountains.

“Many years ago, I read a thesis about this very interesting forest in Greece. In our research, we build long chronologies to construct climate histories, so finding living trees of old age is one of our motivations. To age the tree, we needed to take a wood core, from the outside to the centre. The core is one meter and has 1075 annual rings” says Krusic.

The scientists hope the annual variations of the tree rings from such trees and those fallen, yet still preserved on the ground, will provide an informative history of climatic and environmental conditions going back thousands of years. Considering where the tree was found and its age, the scientists named this dendro (tree) ‘Adonis’ after the Greek god of beauty and desire.

“I am impressed, in the context of Western civilization, all the human history surrounding this tree; all the empires, the Byzantine, the Ottoman, all the people living in this region. So many things could have led to its demise. Fortunately, this forest has been basically untouched for over a thousand years,” said Krusic.

Timeline→

941 – Adonis is a seedling. The Byzantine Empire is at its peak. From the North, the Vikings reach the Black Sea.

1041 – Adonis is 100 years old. In China, a book is published describing gunpowder. A man called Macbeth is crowned King of Scotland.

1191 – Adonis is 250 years old. The universities of Oxford and Paris are founded. The third crusade battles Saladin in the Holy Land.

1441 – Adonis is 500 years old. The Ottoman Empire conquers Greece. Many Greek scholars flee to the West, influencing the Renaissance. In Sweden, the first parliament is held in Arboga. Johannes Gutenberg is about to test his first printing press.

1691 – Adonis is 750 years old. Isaac Newton formulated his Laws on Motion. Ice cream, tea and coffee are introduced in Europe.

1941 – Adonis is a millennium old. World War II is ravaging the world. Nazi Germany, Italy and Bulgaria occupy Greece.

*News source- this article first appeared on the Stockholm University site -su.se/english/

*Photo source- Dr Oliver Konter, Mainz

GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.

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