The Oldest Known Trees In The World

Trees are some of the most ubiquitous organisms on the planet. Over time, they have evolved on every continent with thousands of species still living everywhere, but some are much older than you might think. The average tree lives about 50 years, but some of the oldest known trees are far older than that.

Many of the oldest trees in the world live in austere conditions in locations no human would ever want to go, which is one of the reasons they're still alive. Without being cut down by human hands, some trees have lived for thousands of years, making trees not only the oldest organisms on the planet but some that lived through much of humanity's most important historical periods.

  • Old Tjikko, A 9,560-Year-Old Norway Spruce

    Old Tjikko was long considered to be the world's oldest living tree, but due to it being a clonal tree, that designation is inaccurate. A clonal tree is one that regenerates new trunks, branches, and roots. To put it simply, it continues to regenerate from itself over millennia. Because of its status as a clonal tree, its age was determined via carbon dating of genetically matched material found under the tree.

    Location: Fulufjället Mountain, Dalarna province, Sweden
    Status: Alive

  • Alerce Milenario/Gran Abuelo, A 5,484-Year-Old Alerce In Chile
    Photo: Yiyo Zamorano / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0

    Alerce Milenario/Gran Abuelo, A 5,484-Year-Old Alerce In Chile

    In 2022, scientists in Chile announced they might have identified a new candidate for oldest living tree: an alerce (a type of conifer), dubbed the Alerce Milenario or Gran Abuelo (great-grandfather), in Chile's Alerce Costero National Park. Researchers used statistical computer modeling as well as traditional methods to determine the tree's age, which they estimated at 5,484 years. According to Science, because the researchers didn't take a full sample of rings from the tree, other tree experts might be skeptical of the findings.

    Location: Alerce Costero National Park, Chile
    Status: Alive

  • An Unnamed 5,068-Year-Old Great Basin Bristlecone Pine

    One of the oldest living trees is also one of the oldest living organisms on the planet. It hasn't been given a name. It took root in 3050 BCE, nearly 500 years before the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza. The Roman Civilization wouldn't rise for another 2,200 years. This tree saw the birth and death of Jesus, the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, and most of recorded history.

    Location: White Mountains, California, USA
    Status: Alive

  • Methuselah, A 4,850-Year-Old Great Basin Bristlecone Pine

    This aptly named Great Bristletcone Pine was found to be 4,850 years old. Until 2012, it was the oldest known living tree in the world, having been cored in 1957 with 4,789 rings. The tree was germinated in 2832 BCE, making it one of the oldest organisms on the planet.

    Location: White Mountains, California, USA
    Status: Alive

  • Prometheus, A 4,844-Year-Old Great Basin Bristlecone Pine

    Prometheus was a Great Basin Bristlecone Pine tree that might have been as old as 5,000 years when it was cut down in 1964. Prometheus was felled by a graduate student working alongside the United States Forest Service for research purposes. It isn't known why Donald Currey cut down the tree instead of simply coring it, but he did and the oldest known tree (at the time) was killed and used for additional studies.

    Location: Wheeler Peak, Nevada, USA
    Status: Dead. Cut down by Donald Rusk Currey in 1964

  • Sarv-e Abarkuh, A 4,500-Year-Old Mediterranean Cypress
    Photo: TruthBeethoven / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Sarv-e Abarkuh, A 4,500-Year-Old Mediterranean Cypress

    Sarv-e Abarkuh, the Cypress of Abarkuh, is a Mediterranean Cypress tree located in Iran. It has been designated a National Natural Monument by the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran and is a popular tourist site. The age of the tree has been estimated between 4,000 and 5,000 years, though it has not been cored. The tree has been a part of Iranian culture for so long, it has its own fairytale suggesting it was planted by Zoroaster.

    Location: Abarkuh, Yazd, Iran
    Status: Alive