An international team of researchers has found the oldest living tree in Europe, and they are calling it the ‘oldest living inhabitant‘ in the continent. The Bosnian Pine tree is more than 1,075 years old and has witnessed empires thrive and fall since it was born centuries ago.
Experts stumbled on the pine tree by accident and have dubbed it “Adonis” in honor of the Greek mythology figure who conquered the heart of the goddess of love Aphrodite. This Bosnian Pine tree, also known as Pinus heldreichii. This Bosnian Pine tree, also known as Pinus heldreichii, was seedling when the Byzantine Empire was at it’s best moment, and Vikings were sailing the world’s seas.
History of its Roots
Krusic, who is also a graduate student at Stockholm University, read about this exotic forest in Greece and associated the tree’s in the pictures with similar elderly trees living in the U.S.
“In the thesis, there were photographs of these amazingly contorted trees, they looked an awful lot like trees I’d seen along the Great Basin in the U.S, which are very old and they lived in a similar environment,” said lead researcher Krusic to the Washington Post.
The team traveled to Greece and found Adonis in a forest nearby Greece’s border with Albania, just sitting there for 1,075 years. To determine the tree’s age, the team performed a series of investigations called dendrochronology, which is the science of studying tree rings.
These rings are located at the core of the tree, and they form after each year of life. Dendrochronologists can analyze the pattern of the rings to determine the age of the growing tree. The science is used for several reasons, first to study past biology changes experienced by the trees, especially climate changes.
Secondly, to compare the tree’s wood to ancient arts or architectures and to determine the radiocarbon dating. To determine Adonis age, the team had to extract a five-millimeter sample of the tree’s core and analyze the rings.
This procedure doesn’t harm Adonis health or growth since it’s a subtle example. The team counted 1,075 tree rings. However, Krusic explained they weren’t able to reach the core of the tree. This means they are more rings in Adonis, and the tree is older than previously thought.
“We didn’t reach the center, so it’s definitely older and we’re just reporting the actual ring count,” said the dendrochronologist.
Adonis is the first and oldest single tree in Europe. Some people might question which tree takes the ‘oldest living tree’ award since there’s a 10,000-year-old tree sitting on Sweden called “Old Tijikko.” What most people don’t know, is that the Swedish tree is what experts call a “clonal tree.”
Clonal trees can live for a few hundred years and then split or clone themselves from their core and reproduce asexually. The process creates an exact spruce of the last tree, but it’s not the same.
So, although the trees are identical and living in the same location, they change every hundred years. Adonis, on the other hand, isn’t a clonal tree and has been sitting in the same area for 1,075 years. It cannot rely on a mother plant, or the ability to split or clone itself to survive. The oldest single living tree in the world is currently sitting in Los Angeles, California and it’s a 4,800 years old bristlecone pine dubbed Methuselah.
However, Krusic’s findings will not be published in any journal, since discovering Adonis was just a happy accident. The researcher along with his international team that includes specialists from Germany and the University of Arizona are focusing on studying climate change trough old trees.
According to the lead researcher, the real story sits in ancient trees roots since they have witnessed all sorts of climate changes and environmental situations. The research team did publish a timeline of Adonis lifetime and the historical circumstances that the tree has seen.
The Huffington Post published Adonis life-biography:
1941 – Adonis is a seedling. The Byzantine Empire is at its peak. From the North, the Vikings reach the Black Sea.
1041 – Adonis is a 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 has 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. Greece is occupied by Nazi Germany, Italy, and Bulgaria.
Source: Washington Post