World's oldest tree has lived through mankind's biggest events

Study Shows World's Biggest Trees Dying Quickly
Study Shows World's Biggest Trees Dying Quickly

Imagine a single living organism older than Jesus and the pyramids. It was born during the last Ice Age and has lived through man's creation of the wheel and the destructive wars of the 20th century.

It isn't a mythological creature, but rather a tree.

In fact, it is a standard Norwegian Spruce, a species that is frequently used as a Christmas tree today.

The 'Old Tjikko' was discovered in 2004 by Leif Kullman, a professor at Sweden's Umeå University. The lone conifer sits in the Dalarna Province in the mountains of central Sweden. The visible portion of the tree is 13-feet-tall, scraggly and fairly young (the spruce's trunks have a lifespan of only around 600 years, according to Kullman), but what is below makes 'Old Tjikko' unbelievable.

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According to Kullman's team, the tree's root system has been growing for 9,550 years, placing its start date at the beginning of the last Ice Age. The incredible lifespan is thanks to the plant's ability to clone itself. As soon as one stem dies, another can take its place.

The 'Old Tjikko' has been recognized as the world's old individual living tree, but the title is a little murky thanks to the cloning process. Pando, a forest in Utah, started with a single quaking aspen tree that spread into colony of over 40,000 genetically identically stems that share the same roots. It now covers 106 acres and weighs 13 million pounds. Experts say Pando's genetic makeup could be from 80,000 to one million years old.

Human writing did not emerge globally until around the Bronze Age, so it is difficult to know what may have occurred over Pando's alleged lifespan. However, 'Old Tjikko' has been growing throughout mankind's greatest accomplishments and darkest periods.