Most people will be happy if their house plant lasts for a year or two. But trees are a different story. Some trees can survive for hundreds or even thousands of years in the wild, making them the oldest living things on earth. Now put that on your bucket list! To show you just how old some trees can really get, we've put together a list of the top three oldest trees in the world. And let me tell you, these guys are truly the oldest of old.
The oldest living tree in the world has only recently been discovered and has therefore not yet been given a name. Studies of the rings and stem cells have shown that this tree is 5,062 years old! However, it's younger brother, the Methuselah tree, has been the oldest tree for a long time and is a close runner-up. This tree is also still alive, but is "only" 4,845 years old. A rookie compared to its older brother! Both trees are of the genus pinus longaeva or popularly called Great Basin Bristlecone Pine. They also both live in the White Mountains in California, USA. Together with other species of thousands of year old trees, they make up an area called the "Forest of the Ancients". The precise location of these trees is carefully kept secret for fear of vandalism. So the picture below is likely not the Methuselah at all. These trees are able to survive for so long because they are very strong and resistant to harsh conditions. Parts of the tree can also die separately so that the rest of the tree can continue living for thousands of years.
Credit: Chao Yen
You may find that Old Tjikko doesn't look very old in his picture, and you’re right! While the tree itself is up to 600 years old, it’s underground root system dates back 9,550 years! This happens because when the trunk of the tree dies, a new trunk grows back on the same root system in a process called vegetative reproduction. Old Tjikko is the oldest vegetative reproduction tree with only one trunk. Fun fact: Old Tjikko's was discovered in northern Sweden in 2004 where he was named after the discoverer's late dog.
Credit: Karl Brodowsky
Old Tjikko may be the oldest vegetative reproduction tree with only one trunk but he certainly does not have the oldest root system in the world. In Utah, U.S.A., there is a root system called Pando that is at least 80,000 years old. It may even be up to 1 million years old, according to some researchers. This root system consists of countless trees that are individually only a few hundred years old but are all genetically identical. Altogether, the entire Pando system covers 43 hectares, or nearly 50 football fields, and weighs more than 6,000 tons. This makes Pando the largest and heaviest living organism on earth!