9,550-Year-Old Tree Discovered in Sweden is the World’s Oldest Individual Clonal Tree
Trees are some of the longest living organisms on earth, and this scraggly spruce is no exception. The ancient 16-foot-tall Norwegian tree grows high atop the Fulufjället Mountain in Sweden and goes by the name of Old Tjikko (named after the discovering geologist’s dog). While this little shrub may not look like much, carbon dating of its root system has revealed that Old Tjikko it is actually a mind-boggling 9,550 years old. This means that its wizened bark and timeworn branches have seen thousands of years of human history come and go.
Discovered in 2004, this particular spruce comes from a species that traditionally decorated European homes during Christmas time, and is the planet’s longest-living identified plant. The incredible longevity of the plant actually stems from its intricate root system and ability to clone itself. While the trunk may only live around 600 years, as soon as that portion dies off, a new one emerges from the very same root stock, allowing it to continually regenerate.
For thousands of years, the frigid Tundra climate has kept Old Tjikko to a petite shrub; however, as weather has warmed over the past 100 years, the shrub has grown into a full-fledged tree that now stands proudly, having outlived so much else on this earth.