How old is the oldest tree in the world? Let’s find out.

oldest trees

How old is the oldest tree in the world? Let’s find out.

Jan 3, 2020 Blogs by jolie

In every corner of our nature-loving world, there are trillions of trees. Some were planted as later as some few seconds ago while some date back to ancient years. Some non-clonal trees have survived to cross centuries and are still alive, clonal trees have proven to last even longer. Amazingly, today I’m gonna let you know the oldest clonal and non-clonal discovered trees in the world.

What is the difference between clonal and non-clonal trees?

Before we go into the list, let’s first understand these crucial terms. Clonal trees are the sprouting variety of trees that reproduce asexually, this means that the trees are connected by the parent root system and are genetically identical (clonal) to the parent tree. These trees can survive for a longer period compared to the non-clonal species due to their ability to regenerate.

Non-clonal trees, on the other hand, are those tree species that do not reproduce asexually. Therefore, the rings of the tree are the same years as the roots.  This is the original versions of the planted tree. So, what is the oldest clonal tree in the world?

 The top oldest Non-clonal trees

1. The mysterious oldest possibly living non-clonal tree

Before his death in 2009, Tom Harlan had successfully dated a tree sample collected in 1957. He found the tree to be about 5,062 years or possibly more. This tree, as per Harlan, was still living by 2010 and might be still living. However, due to the sudden demise of Harlan, the location of this tree cannon be traced!

2. The non-clonal Prometheus (WPN – 114)

If you visit Eastern  Nevada in the U.S, the wheeler peak’s tree line, you shall find an extraordinarily wide tree stump. This stump belongs to the oldest known non-clonal tree in the world, the Prometheus-a great basin bristlecone variety. The stump was created by a graduate student in conjunction with the united states forest service in 1964. By then, the tree was estimated to be 4,862 years old and could possibly go above 5,000 years.

The non-clonal Prometheus (WPN – 114)

Donald Rusk Currey tagged this tree WPN-114 which is given the name Prometheus. Wheeler Peak is the highest mountain in Nevada, Prometheus survived the ax through all these years.

3. Methuselah has been around for 4,851 years!

At around 2833 BC, a seed bore a seedling of the Methuselah which then survived for 4,789 years to become the second oldest known non-clonal tree. This tree grew in the white mountains of Inyo County in California within an ancient bristlecone pine forest.

The Methuselah

The great basin bristlecone pine species were sampled by Edmund Schulman and Tom Harlan.

4. The Gran Abuelo

Within the Alerce Costero National park located in chile, you shall find a 3,646 years old tree-The Gran Abuelo. The tree was given a Spanish name Gran Abuelo which means Great Grandfather in English. As of 1993, researchers studied this tree’s growth ring and found the tree to be 3,622 years old meaning the tree started life at around 1,500 BC.

The Gran Abuelo

This valuable tree has survived the cutting through this year to make the world’s third oldest non-clonal tree.

The oldest Clonal trees

1. Here comes the Pando (the oldest clonal tree)

Existent for 80,000 years, the Pando, also known as the trembling giant is made up of genetically identical quaking aspen colony. What makes me gasp most is the fact that they are supported by the same roots! I wonder how to spread out and massive the roots can be! Occupying a total area of 43 hectares of land, the tree makes the heaviest weighted living organism weighing 6,600 tons.

The Pando (the oldest clonal tree)

You can find the trembling giant if you visited South-central Utah in the United States, then proceed to the western edge of the colorado plateau and advance to the Fishlake national forest. Its exact location is at Fremont River Ranger District. The colony is currently thought to be dying and has not grown in the past 30-40 years with the greatest cause being human activities.

2. The 13,000 years  Jurupa Oak

When Mitch Provance visited the Jurupa Mountains in the 1900s, he discovered a clonal tree species-the Jurupa Oak. The colony turned out to have been existent on the mountain for the past 13,000 years!

The 13,000 years  Jurupa Oak

The most surprising fact is that the Jurupa oak only germinates when burnt. The remainder stalks sprout fresh vegetation. With a height of about one meter, the tree colony spreads its 70 clusters across a  25 x 8 meters area.

3. The Old Tjikko

This is the oldest living Picea abies tree and makes the third oldest living clonal tree. Since studying its rings could have brought it to its end, the tree’s root system was carbon dated and found out to be over 9,500 years. Funny enough, Old Tjikko was the name of Processor Leif Kullman’s dog. After discovering the tree in Fulufjallet Mountain located in the Darna province in Sweden.

The Old Tjikko

This tree previously gained fame as the oldest living tree in the world. It was later discovered to be a clonal tree. When the roots are left alone, they sprout into vegetative new plants and if part of its trunk touches the ground, it develops into roots hence many chances of survival. Upon looking at it, the tree looks, and is, very young, but the roots have been existent for the past 9,500 years!


Since ancient times, human beings have placed their own needs as a priority. Most trees are cut before they reach any substantial age to make all the fancy furniture and buildings. However, some strategically located trees have had the protection of natural barriers to survive through thousands of years with others even crossing centuries. The world’s oldest tree is, therefore, the Pando, for clonal species, with an estimated age of over 80,000 years. The Prometheus (WPN – 114) takes the top position of the world’s oldest known non-clonal trees with an estimated age of 4,862 years and a possible over 5,000 years.