Berlin | In a remarkable finding, scientists have discovered the oldest known living tree in Europe – a Bosnian pine growing in the highlands of northern Greece that has been dated to be more than 1,075 years old.
“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 civilised for over 3,000 years,” said Paul J Krusic, from Stockholm University in Sweden, leader of the expedition that found the millennial Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii).
It is one of more than a dozen individuals of millennial age, living in a treeline forest high in the Pindos mountains.
“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 Krusic.
“To age the tree, we needed to take a core of wood, from the outside to the centre. The core is one meter and has 1,075 annual rings,” he said.
The scientists, including those from University of Mainz in Germany and University of Arizona n the US, hope the annual variations of the tree rings from trees like this and those fallen in centuries past, yet still preserved on the ground, will provide an informative history of climatic and environmental conditions, going back thousands of years.
Considering where the tree was found, and its venerable age, the scientists have named this individual “Adonis” after the Greek god of beauty and desire.
“I am impressed, in the context of western civilisation, all the human history that has surrounded this tree; all the empires, the Byzantine, the Ottoman, all the people living in this region,” said Krusic.
“So many things could have led to its demise. Fortunately, this forest has been basically untouched for over a thousand years,” he said.
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