When Columbus Set Sail, This Tree Was 500 Years Old

'Adonis' is Europe's oldest tree
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2016 4:45 PM CDT

When it comes to ancient things, the United States has Europe beat on one front: A bristlecone pine found in California's White Mountains was shown to be more than 5,000 years old, an age that dwarfs what was on Monday announced as Europe's oldest officially dated tree. "Adonis," a Bosnian pine living in Greece's Pindus mountains, was confirmed to have been growing for 1,075 years. Swedish, German, and American scientists reached that conclusion as you might guess they did: by counting tree rings, in this case those appearing on a core of wood drilled from the tree; Live Science notes the ring-counting process also involved accounting for ring anomalies and reviewing the cores of nearby trees.

"It is quite remarkable that this large, complex, and impressive organism has survived so long in such an inhospitable environment ... so many things could have led to its demise," says Swedish dendrochronologist Paul Krusic in a press release. That release outlines milestones in the life of the tree, a seedling in AD 941 as Vikings reached the Black Sea. On its hundredth birthday, Macbeth was made king of Scotland. As it hit 550, Christopher Columbus had not yet made his first voyage to the New World. And when it turned 1,000, it did so in a country occupied by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Should you see the "oldest living tree" title assigned to a more than 9,500-year-old Swedish spruce, here's the difference: That's a cloned tree, meaning the root system is that old, but the tree's trunks die and and then regenerate about every 600 years, reported National Geographic. (The oldest gold of mankind was recently discovered.)

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