Bosnian pine tree is Europe's oldest living thing at 1,075 years old, say scientists

Image source, Dr Oliver Konter/Mainz

A 1,075-year-old tree located in northern Greece is said to be Europe's oldest living thing, say scientists.

The Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii) was dated by counting the rings, which are formed each year as the tree grows.

Paul J Krusic, the leader of the expedition that found the tree, described the its survival as "remarkable".

Around the time that this tree was a seedling, in the year 941, the Vikings were roaming northern Europe.

And it was already about 250 years old when the University of Oxford was founded.

"It is quite remarkable that this large, complex and impressive organism has survived so long in such an inhospitable environment, in a land that has been civilized for over 3,000 years," said Mr Krusic.

He's a dendrochronologist - an expert on dating trees.

This one was discovered by a team which included researchers from Stockholm University, the University of Mainz and the University of Arizona.

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It is one of more than a dozen individual trees of around that age, living in a forest high in the Pindos mountains.

Image source, Dr Oliver Konter/Mainz

"I am impressed, in the context of western civilization, all the human history that has surrounded this tree; all the empires, the Byzantine, the Ottoman, all the people living in this region.

"So many things could have led to its demise. Fortunately, this forest has been basically untouched for over a thousand years," said Mr Krusic.

Scientists named the tree Adonis, after the Greek god of beauty and desire.

Although this tree is thought to be the oldest in Europe, it is nowhere near as old as the longest-living tree in the world.

These are bristlecone pines (Pinus longaeva) in California's White Mountains, according to Guinness World Records.

The oldest individual tree, named Methuselah, was found by Dr Edmund Schulman and was dated in 1957 as being 4,600 years old, although some scientists claim to have found one even older.

The oldest cloned tree in Europe - thought to be nearly 10,000 years old - is in Sweden.

A cloned yew tree in Perthshire is believed to be one of the oldest in the UK at around 5,000 years old.

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