Friday, April 11, 2008
Swedish spruce may be world's oldest living tree
By Niklas Pollard
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Scientists have found a cluster of spruces in the mountains in western Sweden which, at an age of 8,000 years, may be the world's oldest living trees.
The hardy Norway spruces were found perched high on a mountain side where they have remained safe from recent dangers such as logging, but exposed to the harsh weather conditions of the mountain range that separates Norway and Sweden.
Carbon dating of the trees carried out at a laboratory in Miami, Florida, showed the oldest of them first set root about 8,000 years ago, making it the world's oldest known living tree, Umea University Professor Leif Kullman said.
California's "Methuselah" tree, a Great Basin bristlecone pine, is often cited as the world's oldest living tree with a recorded age of between 4,500 and 5,000 years.
Two other spruces, also found in the course of climate change studies in the Swedish county of Dalarna, were shown to be 4,800 and 5,500 years old.
"These were the first woods that grew after the Ice Age," said Lars Hedlund, responsible for environmental surveys in the county of Dalarna and collaborator in climate studies there.