An international team of scientists has uncovered Europe’s oldest living tree. The team says that this impressive record goes to the 1075-year-old Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii) in northern Greece.
The tree, nicknamed Adonis after the Greek god, is one of more than a dozen trees that reached the millennial age that inhabit the forest in the Pindos mountains. According to researchers from Stockholm University (Sweden), University of Mainz (Germany) and University of Arizona (USA), it is impressive that the tree survived this long despite living in a very harsh environment.
The team’s leader, Swedish dendrochronologist Paul J. Krusic, says they wanted to determine the trees’ age to construct climate histories in the region. To do this, they had to take a core of wood, starting from the outside to the center. The team determined that the one-meter core contains up to 1,075 annual rings.
“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,” pointed out Krusic.
In a press release, the team revealed the tree’s timeline:
941 — Adonis is a seedling. The Byzantine Empire is at its peak. From the North, the Vikings reached the Black Sea.
1041 — Adonis is 100 years old. In China, a book is published describing gunpowder. A man called Macbeth is crowned King of Scotland.
1191 — Adonis is 250 years old. The universities of Oxford and Paris are founded. The third crusade battles Saladin in the Holy Land.
1441 — Adonis is 500 years old. The Ottoman empire conquers Greece. Many Greek scholars flee to the west, influencing the Renaissance. In Sweden, the first parliament is held in Arboga. Johannes Gutenberg is about to test his first printing press.
1691 — Adonis is 750 years old. Isaac Newton has formulated his Laws of Motion. Ice cream, tea and coffee are introduced in Europe.
1941 — Adonis is a millennium old. World War II is ravaging the world. Greece is occupied by Nazi Germany, Italy and Bulgaria.