The Timeless Giants: Introducing the World’s Five Oldest Living Trees

All of the trees on this list are/were at least 3,500 years old — unfortunately, a few of these ancient giants were destroyed by human hands.

The rest of the surviving trees on this list are protected to prevent their destruction and one of the oldest individual trees even has a secret location not disclosed to the public. With continued conservation efforts, hopefully these trees will live for thousands of years more.

6,000 yrs old Baobab Tree in Senegal, West Africa

The Senator was one of the oldest and biggest bald cypress trees in the world with an estimated age of 3,500 years.

Prior to its demise, The Senator was 36 m tall (118 ft) with a circumference of 10.7 m (35 ft) — the tree was originally 50 m (165 ft) tall, but the top was damaged by a hurricane in 1925.

Unfortunately, the Senator was destroyed by a fire in 2012, which was started by Sarah Barnes and a friend who were smoking inside the tree; she left the fire burning which destroyed the tree from the inside out.

In 2014, a 50-foot-tall clone of The Senator (one of 10 trees cloned from The Senator in the 1990s) was planted in the park and named “The Phoenix.”

Gran Abuelo photo source: New Atlas

The Gran Abuelo (Spanish for “great grandfather”), which is located in the Alerce Costero National Park in Chile, is the oldest living tree in South America. The tree stands at more than 60 m tall (196 ft) with a diameter of 4 m (13 ft) and a perimeter of 11 m (36 ft).

Gran Abuelo’s age was determined in 1993 after researchers used a growth ring to verify its antiquity — they estimated that the tree was around 3,622 years old at the time.

Its age means that the Gran Abuelo germinated around 1,500 BCE. There is a possibility that the Gran Abuelo wasn’t even the oldest tree in the grove as many of the larger ones were logged in the past.

Did You Know?

Patagonian Cypresses are known as Alerce in Spanish and contain special resins that help the trees decompose slowly, even when buried or in water. This is why the Patagonian Cypress is endangered and why many of the Gran Abuelo’s fellow Alerces have been cut down and turned into building material.

Sarv-e Abarkuh photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Sarv-e Abarkuh (Abarkuh Cypress) is believed to be one of the oldest trees in the world as its age is estimated to be between 4,000 – 5,000 years. It is hard to place an exact age on the tree, but it has been cultivated for many years.

Legend says that the Sarv-e Abarkuh was planted by Zoroaster, an Iranian prophet, or Japheth, the third son of the Biblical figure Noah.

The Sarv-e Abarkuh is a national natural monument and is protected by the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran. The tree’s large size and legendary history and age have made it one of the most popular attractions in the city of Abarkuh.

Llangernyw Yewphoto source:

The Llangernyw Yew‘s age is estimated to be between 4,000 – 5,000 years old. Dating yew trees is often difficult as the core has been lost, with several large offshoots growing out of the tree’s central area.

The yew is located in the churchyard of St. Digain’s Church in the Llangernyw village and the church has a certificate signed by David Bellamy, English botanist, author, broadcaster, and environmental campaigner, saying the tree is 4,000 – 5,000 years old based on thousands of years of written records.

This ancient tree holds a special place in Welsh mythology as it is associated with the spirit Angelystor (the “Recording Angel”) who comes every Halloween to foretell which of the parishioners will die the following year.

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