Scientists have found an old Bosnian pine tree in the highlands of Greece. The special thing about the tree is that it is more than 1075 years old, which makes it oldest known living tree in Europe. More importantly, it has also been declared the oldest living thing in Europe.
The millennium old tree, named Adonis, was discovered during an on-field survey conducted by an international team of researchers from Stockholm University, University of Mainz and University of Arizona and was in the midst of dozens of 1000 years old trees growing in a high elevation forest on Greece’s Pindos mountain.
“Many years ago I read a thesis about this very interesting forest in Greece. In our research, we try to build long chronologies to construct climate histories, so finding living trees of old age is one of our motivations,” said
Swedish dendrochronologist, Paul J. Krusic, the leader of the expedition.
“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 civilized for over 3000 years.”
In order to determine the age of the tree, researchers removed a core of wood stretching from outside to the center and counted its annual growth rings. Growth rings are a collection of circles on a tree which becomes visible when a tree is cut crosswise and it is a scientifically proven method of dating a tree. Researchers found that its core had 1075 rings, making it the oldest known living tree in Europe.
Since ecological forces like droughts, excessive rain or disease epidemics also leave their mark on a tree’s growth rings, Adonis and other trees of such kind can provide an informative history of climate and environmental condtions, going back thousands of years and also shed light on how trees will respond to current climate change.The expedition was also not aimed towards finding the oldest tree in the continent but to learn more about major shifts in climate by finding these trees that were resilient enough to withstand and survive harsh conditions over the centuries.
“That has a story in it. A story about climate change and human influences,” said Krusic. “That’s the real we're working on. This is just something we stumbled upon.”
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