World’s oldest tree is in Chile

Wednesday 8 Jun 2022

(By Doloresz Katanich with Reuters) An ancient alerce tree known as the "great grandfather" in southern Chile could be more than 5,000 years old, according to a new study.

Scientists were not able to determine an exact age based on the tree rings because of its unusually large trunk. But they can conclude that this is the world’s oldest tree.

Normally, a one-metre cylinder of wood is extracted to count tree rings, but the great grandfather's trunk has a diameter of four metres.

Jonathan Barichivich, the scientist who led the study, said that both the sample they extracted and other dating methods suggest the tree is up to 5,484 years old.

An Alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides) is pictured in a forest at the Alerce Costero National Park in Los Rios, Chile, in this undated photograph from Jonathan Barichivich/Handout via REUTERS

"This method tells us that 80 per cent of all possible growth trajectories give us an age of this living tree greater than 5,000 years," says Barichivich. "There is only a 20 per cent chance that the tree is younger."

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(Photo credit: Jonathan Barichivich/Handout via REUTERS)

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