Scientists have discovered a 2,624-year-old tree in an American swamp, and experts say it is most likely the oldest living tree in eastern North America.
An Ancient Tree
Researchers came across the cypress tree in southeastern North Carolina along the Black River.
Given its old age which scientists determined based on the internal annual growth rings and radiocarbon dating, it is one of the oldest non-clonal, sexually reproducing trees in the world.
At 2,624 years old, it is old than Christianity, the Roman Empire, and even the English language. In fact, it’s so old it predates the foundation of the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great.
Scientists estimate its birthday around 605 B.C. In comparison, the world’s oldest bristlecone pine, found in the White Mountains of California, is estimated to be around 5,066 years old — which means its roughly twice the age of the newfound cypress tree.
The bad part is, climate change could erase it from history.
Due to illegal logging, but mostly because of water pollution and rising sea levels as a result of climate change, experts say the tree could soon disappear from existence.
The tree was discovered in 2017 as scientists from the University of Arkansas were studying tree rings in North Carolina’s Black River swampland.
They discovered that the tree is part of a precious, intact ecosystem that stretches more than 100 kilometers next to the Black River, and that has survived for over two millennia.
“It is exceedingly unusual to see an old-growth stand of trees along the whole length of a river like this,” revealed the lead author of the study detailing the tree, David Stahle a geoscientist at the University of Arkansas.
The expert stresses how it is amazing to realize “the tree was alive during the time of Christ.”
“Bald cypress are valuable for timber and they have been heavily logged,” Stahle said.
“Way less than 1% of the original virgin bald cypress forests have survived.”
According to Stahle, the tree is “one of the greatest natural areas left in eastern North America.”
“The discovery of the oldest known living trees in eastern North America, which are in fact some of the oldest living trees on earth, provides powerful incentive for private, state, and federal conservation of this remarkable waterway,” the authors concluded.