Uncovering the Majesty of the World’s Five Largest Trees


Methuselah photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Until 2012, Methuselah was the oldest known tree in the world and its age (4,789 years at the time) was discovered in 1957 by Tom Harlan and Edmund Schulman.

The tree is named for the oldest Biblical figure, Methuselah, who lived to be 969 years old.

This ancient tree grows in Methuselah Grove in the White Mountains of Inyo County, California, where it is surrounded by other ancient trees, and its exact location is unknown to the public to keep the tree safe from vandalism.

Based on the tree’s age, it is estimated that Methuselah germinated around 2832 BCE, making it older than the famous Egyptian pyramids.


Prometheusphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Prior to its demise in 1964, Prometheus was one of the oldest trees in the world and at the time, it was even older than Methuselah. The tree was located in a grove of several old trees in Wheeler Park, Nevada.

Due to the secretive nature of the older, unnamed Bristlecone Pine on this list, Prometheus is often cited das the oldest Bristlecone Pine in the U.S.

In 1964, geographer Donald R. Currey was given permission from the Forest Service to take a core sample of the tree to determine its age, which he suspected was over 4,000 years.

Unfortunately, Currey’s extraction went awry and the entire tree was cut down.

Researchers counted 4,862 growth rings on the core sample, but estimate that the tree may have been at least 4,900 years old as it likely did not grow a ring every year due to the area’s harsh conditions.


Unnamed Great Basin Bristlecone Pine photo source:Wikipedia

This Great Basin Bristlecone Pine is the oldest tree in the world, with an estimated age of 5,071 years. It was named the oldest tree in 2012, beating the previous record holder by over 200 years.

The tree was cored by Edmund Schulman in the late 1950s, but he did not have a chance to date his sample before he passed away in 1958.

The tree’s age was later determined by Tom Harlan in 2010, who was working on the samples Schulman collected before he also died. Before his death, Harlan reported that the tree was still alive and that it was 5,062 years old.


Old TjikkoWhen Old Tjikko was first discovered in Sweden in 2008, it was declared the world’s oldest tree and estimated to be about 10,000 years old. While Old Tjikko has come to be known as the “world’s oldest tree” it is not quite as old as the Jurupa Oak (over 13,000 years), which was discovered a year later.

Also, Tjikko is only an eighth of the age of 80,000-year old Pando!

Like both of those older trees, Old Tjikko is also a clone, but it isn’t a colony like Pando and the Jurupa Oak — instead, Old Tjikko regenerates new trunks, branches, and roots in the same spot.

The root system of Old Tjikko is about 10,000 years old, while its trunks usually only survive for about 600 years before a new clone tree resprouts in its place.


Jurupa OakThe Jurupa Oak (the tree’s name; it is a Palmer’s Oak) is another clonal colony tree that has survived for thousands of years by cloning itself. Only discovered within the past decade, the Jurupa Oak is over 13,000 years old. It is now the oldest oak tree ever and one of the oldest trees in California.

Its age was estimated by researchers based on the size of the colony and the growth of individual stems.

Another unique thing about the Jurupa Oak is that it is the only Palmer’s Oak in the area because the species typically prefers to live in wetter and more mountainous areas — the Jurupa Mountains are arid and at a lower altitude.

In 2009, when the Jurupa Oak was first discovered, the tree had about 70 clusters of stems, was 2.5 kilometers (1.55 miles) in width, and 1 meter (3.28 feet) in height.


With an estimated age of over 80,000 years, Pando is technically one of the oldest trees in the world as well as one of the oldest living organisms. While most of the other trees on this list are individuals, Pando is a clonal colony that shares one underground root systems.

Above ground, Pando may look like a grove of individual trees, but they are all genetically identical clones.

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