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Chile could be home to world’s oldest tree

  • Published
    28th May, 2022
Context

A new study found that an ancient alerce tree known as “great grandfather” could be more than 5,000 years old.

About

Key findings of the study:

  • The tree, in Chile’s Alerce Costero national park, is known as the Great-Grandfather and could be more than 5,000 years old.
  • Scientists were not able to determine an exact age based on tree rings because of the tree’s massive trunk.
  • Normally, a 1 meter (1.09 yards) cylinder of wood is extracted to count tree rings
  • but the great grandfather’s trunk has a diameter of 4 meters
  • The sample researchers extracted and other dating methods suggest the tree is up to 5,484 years old.
  • This method tells us that 80% of all possible growth trajectories give us an age of this living tree greater than 5,000 years.
  • There is only a 20% chance that the tree is younger.
  • The estimated age would beat the current record-holder, a 4,853 year old bristlecone pine tree in California, by more than half a millennium.

Alerce Tree:

  • It is known in Spanish as the alerce, the Patagonian cypress, Fitzroya cupressoides, is a conifer native to Chile and Argentina that belongs to the same family as giant sequoias and redwoods.
  • They grow incredibly slowly and can reach heights of up to 45 metres (150ft).
  • The Great-Grandfather towers over a cool, humid valley in the Alerce Costero national park, its gnarled crevices sheltering mosses, lichens and other plants.

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