Scientists from the University of Arizona in the US, Germany’s University of Mainz, and Sweden’s Stockholm University have announced that a pine tree located in the highlands of Northern Greece is Europe’s oldest living thing.
The tree is in the Forest of Pindos Mountains near Greece’s border with Albania. It is named Adonis after the Greek god of desire and beauty and it is younger than the oldest living tree in the world which is over 5,000 years old – a bristlecone pine that is found in California’s White Mountains.
The researchers found out the tree’s age by counting the rings of the tree. Normally a core of the tree’s wood has rings which indicate its age. The scientists were amazed how the tree had survived the inhospitable environment for such an extended period of time.
They estimated that Adonis was a seedling during the peak of Byzantine Empire. It was 100 years old when Macbeth ascended the throne in Scotland and 720 years when the law of motion was formulated by Isaac Newton. The tree was 1,000 years old during the Second World War.
The scientists were impressed by the past human history that surrounded the tree because in the context of western civilization, all the empires (Byzantine and Ottoman) and all the people that have lived in the region permanently left the forest untouched for more than a thousand years. So many activities could have led to the tree’s demise but it still remains standing. The tree is among several others found in the Pindos Mountains that are more than 1,000 years old.
Environmental consciousness and preservation are indeed crucial and it is hoped the governments will do more to ensure this and other historical tree species do not become extinct.