OLDLIST, a database of old trees

OldList is a database of ancient trees. Its purpose is to identify maximum ages that different species in different localities may attain such that exceptionally old age individuals are recognized. In addition to this original OldList, Neil Pederson at Harvard Forest and colleagues at the Virginia Tech Tree Program maintain a companion Eastern OldList, focused on old trees growing in the eastern United States.

 

A new old age tree record holder was recently recognized, a Pinus longaeva (Great Basin bristlecone pine) growing in the White Mountains of eastern California. The date on this tree was reported to me by the late Tom Harlan. The tree was cored by Edmund Schulman in the summer of 1957 but unfortunately Schulman never had a chance to date the tree before his untimely death in early 1958. Starting around 2009, Harlan worked up many of the cores Schulman collected that summer of 1957, and discovered the tree's age at that time. Tom reported to me in 2010 that the tree was still alive, and the age reported to me at that time was 5062 years old. HOWEVER, as of 2017, the age of this tree has not been able to be confirmed; the core dated by Tom Harlan has not been located at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research. Therefore, I have removed this tree from OldList until such time as it is able to be confirmed.

 

 

Five types of tree ages are recognized in the OldList database:

 

  • XD: crossdated
  • RC: ring counted
  • EX: extrapolations (usually based on ring measurements)
  • HI: historic record
  • C14: radiocarbon dated wood samples from a tree (added 2007)

 

Crossdated ages are derived through recognized dendrochronological procedures (e.g., Stokes and Smiley 1968; Swetnam, Thompson, and Sutherland 1985; Schweingruber 1987; Speer 2010). For a crossdated age, there should be no question of the age of the portion of the tree sampled, except in any portion of the ring series not confidently crossdated with either other trees at the same site or other sites in the area. Ring-counted ages are derived by simple ring counts and may contain errors in age due to missing or false rings, suppressed areas, poorly surfaced samples, or other types of tree-ring anomalies (e.g., injuries). "Age" in these first two types will invariably be a minimum age rather than true chronological age owing to the difficulty of sampling a tree exactly at the point of germination. Extrapolations are ages derived by regression from age/size relationships (e.g. Stephenson and Demetry 1995) or other mathematical or graphical methods. Ranges of ages derived by extrapolations are welcome and can be accommodated in the database. Historical ages are based on some sort of historic reference to the tree. OldList contains only a single historical age, that for a Ficus religiosa at a Buddhist Temple in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. A continuous account of four trees planted in the 3rd century B.C. has been kept (letter to R.J. Hartesveldt from Ambassador of Sri Lanka in the USA, December 15, 1972). An individual tree may have up to two entries in the OldList database. For example, a tree may have one entry for the age of a crossdated radial increment core and a second for an extrapolation age to a possible pith or germination date.

 

A note here on radiocarbon ages of potentially very old trees. There has been a lot of focus on in the media recently about very old trees that are based on radiocarbon dating of a remnant piece of wood in association with a currently living tree that is assumed to have been an ancient stem that reproduced clonally. The most recent example is "Old Tjikko", a Norway spruce (Picea abies) growing in Sweden. The living stem itself is only a few hundred years old, but there is a radiocarbon age of 9,500 years from dead wood present at its base. The living tree is argued to be only the most recent ramet of the much older individual tree genet. However, a 2016 study by G. L. Mackenthun instead argues that there is no evidence of genetic continuity between the dead and living wood portions of the tree, nor is there any evidence of clonal origination of Norway spruce in general. Thus, in the absence of any evidence of genetic continuity between dead and living portions of a stem, especially from a species otherwise not known to commonly reproduce clonally, I do not include such trees in Oldlist.

 

However, radiocarbon ages of trees are considered if the date came from a piece of wood that can unequivocally be associated with the individual tree itself. For example, Patrut et al. (2007) used radiocarbon dating on pieces of what may be the largest known baobab (Adansonia digitata) to determine that the tree was at least 1250± 50 years old when it recently died. This is now the oldest confirmed age of an angiosperm tree, at least twice as old as the second oldest confirmed age for an angiosperm species (although note also the addition of two oaks reported in Jones 1959 that are 866 and 930 years, sent to me by Alexei Rivera; however, we cannot find the original references and these presumably ring-counted ages cannot be confirmed). I also must at some point soon go through the recent literature on radiocarbon ages found on several tree species in South American rain forests that are in some cases several hundred to over 1000 years old. But bottom line is that confirmed (i.e., crossdated) maximum ages of conifer species are typically an order of magnitude greater than crossdated angiosperm species.

 

(Larger version of header photo; bristlecone pine in the Patriarch Grove in the White Mountains, California)

 

Notes on dates:

* Tree is still living as of early 2010s; age given is additional years since it was first sampled when this is known.

** Tree is dead; age is at time of death.

Otherwise age shown is that at time of sampling.

 

 

 Species Age
Type
ID Location Collector(s), Dater(s), Reference
 4000+ years
Pinus longaeva, Great Basin bristlecone pine 4845* XD Methuselah White Mountains, California, USA Ed Schulman, Tom Harlan
Pinus longaeva, Great Basin bristlecone pine 4844** XD WPN-114,
Prometheus
Wheeler Peak, Nevada, USA Currey 1965
 3000+ years
Fitzroya cupressoides, alerce 3622 XD   Chile  Lara and Villalba 1993
Sequoiadendron giganteum, giant sequoia 3266** XD CBR26 Sierra Nevada, California, USA Malcolm Hughes, Ramzi Touchan, Ed Wright 
Sequoiadendron giganteum, giant sequoia 3220** XD D-21 Sierra Nevada, California, USA Douglass 1919
Sequoiadendron giganteum, giant sequoia 3075** XD D-23 Sierra Nevada, California, USA Douglass 1919
Sequoiadendron giganteum, giant sequoia 3033** XD CMC 3 Sierra Nevada, California, USA Tom Swetnam, Chris Baisan
 2000+ years
Juniperus occidentalis, western juniper 2675** XD Scofield Juniper Sierra Nevada, California, USA Miles and Worthington 1998
Pinus aristata, Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine 2435 XD CB-90-11 Central Colorado, USA Brunstein and Yamaguchi 1992
Ficus religiosa, Bodhi tree 2217 HI   Sri Lanka Anonymous
Sequoia sempervirens, coast redwood 2200**  RC   Northern California, USA Emanuel Fritz
Juniperus occidentalis, western juniper 2200 XD/EX Bennett Juniper Sierra Nevada, California, USA Peter Brown
Pinus balfouriana, foxtail pine 2110 XD SHP7 Sierra Nevada, California, USA Anthony Caprio
 1000+ years
Juniperus osteosperma, Utah juniper 1967 XD CMU47a Crawford Mountains, Utah, USA Joey Pettit, Justin DeRose
Juniperus scopulorum, Rocky Mountain juniper 1889 XD CRE 175 Northern New Mexico, USA Henri Grissino-Mayer, Richard Warren
Juniperus occidentalis, western juniper 1810  XD Miles Juniper Sierra Nevada, California, USA Miles and Worthington 1998
Pinus flexilis, limber pine 1697 XD BFR-46 Wasatch Mountains, Utah, USA Bryan Tikalsky, Matt Bekker, Ben Bright
Pinus flexilis, limber pine 1670 XD ERE Northern New Mexico, USA Tom Swetnam, Tom Harlan 
Pinus balfouriana, foxtail pine 1666 XD RCR 1 Sierra Nevada, California, USA Anthony Caprio
Pinus flexilis, limber pine 1661 XD   South Park, Colorado, USA Craig Brunstein 
Pinus flexilis, limber pine 1659 XD KET 3996 Ketchum, Idaho, USA Schulman 1956
Thuja occidentalis, northern white cedar 1653 XD FL117 Ontario, Canada Kelly and Larson 1997
Pinus balfouriana, foxtail pine 1649 XD BBL 2 Sierra Nevada, California, USA Anthony Caprio
Chamaecyparis nootkatensis, Nootka Cypress 1636 RC?    Vancouver Island, Canada Les Jozsa 
Taxodium distichum, bald cypress 1622 XD BCK 69 Bladen County, North Carolina, USA Stahle, Cleaveland, Hehr 1988
Thuja occidentalis, northern white cedar 1567 XD FL101 Ontario, Canada Kelly and Larson 1997
Pinus flexilis, limber pine 1542 XD   Central Colorado, USA Dave Yamaguchi 
Pinus aristata, Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine 1438 XD   San Francisco Peaks, Arizona, USA Don Graybill 
Juniperus turkestanica, Turkestan juniper 1437 XD epm0303z Boibar Valley 3, Pakistan J. Esper, K. Treydte, M. Winiger; Esper et al. 2009 
Pseudotsuga menziesii, Douglas-fir 1350 RC?    Vancouver Island, Canada M. Parker and L. Jozsa (?)
Juniperus occidentalis, western juniper 1288 XD HL47 Sierra Nevada, California, USA Lisa Graumlich, MaryBeth Keifer 

Adansonia digitata, baobab

1275
± 50
C14

Grootboom

Northeast Namibia Patrut et al. 2007
Pseudotsuga menziesii, Douglas-fir 1275 XD BIC63 Northern New Mexico, USA  Henri Grissino-Mayer
Pinus albicaulis, whitebark pine 1267 XD RRR15  Central Idaho, USA Perkins and Swetnam 1996
Pinus heldreichii, Heldreich’s pine 1229 XD/C14 "Oldest tree in Europe" Pollino National Park, Italy Piovesan et al. 2018  
Juniperus occidentalis, western juniper 1220 XD/EX/
C14
Bennett Juniper Sierra Nevada, California, USA Peter Brown 
Juniperus occidentalis, western juniper 1172 XD DGS-19 Devils Gate Summit, California, USA Franco Biondi, Scotty Strachan
Pinus edulis, two-needle piñon 1101 XD FMC01A Nine Mile Canyon, Utah, USA Chris Baisan
Chamaecyparis obtusa, hinoki cypress 1101 XD CIL10A Cilan, Taiwan Ed Wright, Ed Cook
Pinus albicaulis, whitebark pine 1100+ RC   Alberta, Canada D. Belcher
Lagarostrobus franklinii, Huon pine 1089 XD   Tasmania, Australia Cook et al. 1991
Pinus albicaulis, whitebark pine 1050 XD   Alberta, Canada Youngblut 2003
Pseudotsuga menziesii, Douglas-fir 1040 XD ENX37 Southern Wyoming, USA C. Woodhouse, M. Losleben, K. Chowanski, J. Lukas, H. Adams
Thuja occidentalis, northern white-cedar 1032 XD Ontario, Canada Larson and Kelly 1991
Larix lyallii, subalpine larch 1011 XD BAL091 Baker Lake, Montana, USA Malcolm Hughes, Connie Woodhouse, Peter Brown
 < 1000 years
Larix lyallii, subalpine larch 980 XD CPL 01B 2006 Pintler Mtns, Montana, USA Jeremy Littell, Michael Tjoelker
Fokienia Hodginsii, Fujian cypress 979 XD PHFH15B Bidoup Mtn, Lam Dong Province, Vietnam Buckley et al. 2010
Pinus edulis, two-needle piñon 973 XD SUN 2522 Northeast Utah, USA Schulman 1956
Juniperus virginiana, eastern redcedar 940 XD West Virginia, USA B. Buckley, P. Krusic, E. Cook
Quercus robur, English oak 930 RC   Lake of Bienne, Switzerland Schadelin 1905, reported in Jones 1959 (submitted by Alexei Rivera)
Pinus ponderosa, ponderosa pine 929 XD   Wah Wah Mtns, Utah, USA Stan Kitchen
Picea engelmannii, Engelmann spruce 911** XD FCC23 Central Colorado, USA Brown et al. 1995
Pinus monophylla, single-needle piñon 900 XD MIN-08 Pilot Range, Nevada, USA Franco Biondi, Scotty Strachan
Tsuga martensiana, mountain hemlock 889 XD CR54S Glacier Bay National Park, AK, USA Greg Wiles, Nick Wiesenberg
Pinus monophylla, single-needle piñon 888 XD PGH-02 Pine Grove Hills, Nevada, USA Franco Biondi, Scotty Strachan
Pinus albicaulis, whitebark pine 882 XD   Western Alberta, Canada Brian Luckman
Pinus edulis, two-needle piñon 878 XD PIC20 Northwest Colorado, USA Connie Woodhouse, Mark Losleben, Jeff Lukas
Pinus ponderosa, ponderosa pine 877 XD LCW24 NewberryCrater NM, Oregon, USA Jim Speer, Pete Clark
Pseudotsuga menziesii, Douglas-fir 870 XD GMX06 Central Colorado, USA Connie Woodhouse, Mark Losleben, Jeff Lukas
Pseudotsuga menziesii, Douglas-fir 868 XD LAN05 Western Colorado, USA Connie Woodhouse, Mark Losleben, Jeff Lukas
Quercus petraea, sessile oak 866 RC?   Rankovici, Bosnia Cited in Jones 1959 (submitted by Alexei Rivera)
Pinus edulis, two-needle piñon 859 XD WIL62 Western Colorado, USA Connie Woodhouse, Mark Losleben, Jeff Lukas
Pseudotsuga menziesii, Douglas-fir 845 XD LAX01 Western Colorado, USA Connie Woodhouse, Mark Losleben, Jeff Lukas
Pinus ponderosa, ponderosa pine 843 XD BRY4002 Central Utah, USA Schulman 1956
Pinus ponderosa, ponderosa pine 830 XD LCE89 Newberry Crater NM, Oregon, USA Pete Clark, K.C. Phillips
Larix occidentalis, western larch 824 XD SL040 Strawberry Mountains, Oregon, USA Steve Voelker, Lara Läubli
Pinus ponderosa, ponderosa pine 780 XD   Mount Rosa, Colorado, USA F. Brunstein
Picea engelmannii, Engelmann spruce 780 XD   Western Alberta, Canada Brian Luckman
Larix siberica, Siberian larch 750 XD OVL-5N Ovoont, Mongolia Baatar Nachin, Brendan Buckley, Neil Pederson
Pinus ponderosa, ponderosa pine 742 XD   Northwest Arizona, USA Tom Harlan
Larix lyalli, subalpine larch 728 XD   Western Alberta, Canada Brian Luckman
Pinus ponderosa, ponderosa pine 723 XD   Black Hills, South Dakota, USA Bunkers et al. 1999
Tsuga mertensiana, mountain hemlock 722 XD OLF14A Cascade Mtns, Oregon, USA Emily Heyerdahl
Pinus monophylla, single-needle piñon 718 XD WRI-03 White Pine Range, Nevada, USA Franco Biondi, Scotty Strachan, Robin Tausch
Pinus monticola, western white pine 707 XD PFT02 Sequoia NP, California, USA Tony Caprio
Pinus monophylla, single-needle piñon 703 XD MTI-05 Mt. Irish, Nevada, USA Franco Biondi, Scotty Strachan
Pinus monophylla, single-needle piñon 703 XD SSP-10 Shoshone Range, Nevada, USA Franco Biondi, Scotty Strachan
Pinus cembra, Swiss stone pine 701 XD CALF1431 Calimani Mts, Eastern Carpathians, Romania Ionel Popa; Popa et al. 2009
Tilia platyphyllos, bigleaf linden 700 HI "Oldest tree in middle Slovakia" Castle Bojnice, Slovakia Miroslav Blaho; website at http://stromy.enviroportal.sk/strom/ bojnicka-lipa?lang=en
Nyssa sylvatica, Tupelo 679 XD   New Hampshire, USA Sperduto et al. 2000
Picea glauca, white spruce 668 XD   Klauane Lake, Yukon, Canada Luckman 2003 (Brian Luckman, R. van Dorp, Don Youngblut, M. Masiokas)
Abies magnifica var. shastensis, Shasta red fir 665 XD CL2-5 Klamath Mtns, California, USA Carl Skinner, G. Everest, T. Kastner
Pinus siberica, Siberian pine 629 XD TPX-16  Tarvagatay Pass, Mongolia Gordon Jacoby, Baatar Nachin, D. Frank
Pinus contorta var. murrayana, Sierra lodgepole pine 628 XD UT 5G 48 Yosemite NP, California, USA Tony Caprio, Gus Smith, Peter Brown
Pinus jeffreyi, Jeffery pine 626  XD TGS-02 Truckee, California, USA Franco Biondi, Scotty Strachan
Tsuga heterohylla, western hemlock 614  XD YL18WHA Glacier Bay National Park, AK, USA Greg Wiles, Nick Wiesenberg
Picea glauca, white spruce 601 XD   Aishihik Lake, Yukon, Canada Brian Luckman, Emma Watson, & Don Youngblut 2002
Pinus strobiformis, southwestern white pine 599 XD VPK02 San Mateo Mtns, New Mexico, USA Henri Grissino-Mayer, Jim Speer, Kiyomi Morino
Tsuga canadensis, eastern hemlock 555 XD Tionesta, Pennsylvania, USA E. Cook; Cook and Cole 1991
Pinus contorta var. murrayana, Sierra lodgepole pine 544 XD SGT 24 San Bernardino Mountains, California, USA Matt Bekker, Den Bentley, Kristin Hendrickson, Ari Menon
Pinus strobiformis, southwestern white pine 538 XD    Pinaleno Mtns, Arizona, USA Henri Grissino-Mayer
Calocedrus decurrens, incense cedar 533 XD OLG02 Sequoia NP, California, USA Tony Caprio
Picea sitchensis, Sitka spruce 532 XD XRSPR05 Glacier Bay National Park, AK, USA Greg Wiles, Nick Wiesenberg
Calocedrus decurrens, incense cedar 527 XD CCW02 Sequoia NP, California, USA Tony Caprio
Picea glauca, white spruce 522 XD   Norton Bay, Alaska, USA Giddings 1951
Eucalyptus regnans, mountain ash 510±10 XD/C14   Styx Valley, Tasmania, Australia Sam wood; Wood et al. 2010
Liriodendron tulipifera, yellow-poplar 509   Great Smoky Mountains Nat. Park, TN, USA NADEF 2007; Dan Griffin et al.
Fagus sylvatica, European beech 503 XD 1012306F Abruzzi Nat'l Park, Italy Piovesan et al. 2005
Abies lasiocarpa, subalpine fir 501 XD   Southern Yukon, Canada Luckman 2003 (Brian Luckman, M. Kenigsberg)
Pinus resinosa, red pine 500 RC   Granite Lake, Ontario, Canada Scott St. George
Abies alba, silver fir 475 XD Plot 186 tree 6  Jura Mountains, Switzerland Badeau 1996, Bert 1993 (D. Bert, R. Schipffer, M. Becker)
Picea abies, Norway spruce 468 XD LBG Bavarian Forest, Germany Rob Wilson 
Pinus palustris, longleaf pine 458 XD Weymouth Woods Nature Preserve, NC, USA J.T. Ortegren, P. Knapp 
Torreya californica, California nutmeg 455 XD   Sierra Nevada, California, USA Anthony Caprio
Picea rubens, red spruce 445 RC 05BCL901a Fundy Escarpment, New Brunswick, Canada B. Phillips
Pinus resinosa, red pine 433 XD   Dixon Lake Algonquin Provincial Park, Canada Ed Cook
Picea rubens, red spruce 405 XD   Nancy Brook, New Hampshire, USA Paul Krusic 
Quercus alba, white oak 407 XD   Warren County, Iowa, USA Duvick and Blasing 1983
Quercus gambelli, Gambel oak 406 XD FIL383 Chisos Mountains, New Mexico, USA Tony Caprio
Quercus gambelli, Gambel oak 401 XD   North central Arizona, USA Franco Biondi 
Quercus alba, white oak 373 XD DYS08 Belmont County, Ohio, USA Rubino and McCarthy 2000
Quercus stellata, post oak 373 XD KEY13 Osage County, Oklahoma, USA Dave Stahle
Populus deltoides ssp monilifera, plains cottonwood 370 XD F336 Theo. Roosevelt NP (N unit), North Dakota, USA Jesse and Alan Edmondson
Quercus rubra, red oak 326 XD hem79 Wachusett Mountain, Massachusetts, USA Orwig et al. 2001
Toxicodendron diversilobum, Pacific poison oak 324 RC CG 11 2 Aptos, Northern California, USA Zane Moore, Steve Moore
Pinus echinata, shortleaf pine 324 XD GMX307 Great Smokey Mtns NP, Tennessee, USA 2007 Dendroecological Fieldweek Fire History Group
Populous tremuloides, quaking aspen 317 XD 1010-2-1 Rocky Mtn NP, Colorado, USA Dan Binkley, Peter Brown
Pinus echinata, shortleaf pine 315 XD LAW38 Saline County, Arkansas, USA Dave Stahle
Quercus alba, white oak 289 XD HT50 Pisgah Nat'l Forest, North Carolina, USA Speer 2001
Quercus bicolor, swamp white oak 285 XD RHS01a Catkill, New York, USA  Neil Pederson, M. Hopton
Quercus muehlenbergii, chinquapin oak 278 XD   Iowa, USA Duvick and Blasing 1983 
Quercus prinus, chestnut oak 265 XD GL18 Pisgah Nat'l Forest, North Carolina, USA Speer 2001
Pinus pungens, Table Mountain pine 232 XD GKA111 Griffith Knob, Virginia, USA Georgina DeWeese, Henri Grissino-Mayer, Charles Lafon
Pinus pinea, stone pine 228 XD H004J Hoyo de Pinares, Ávila, España Fabio Natalini, Javier Vázquez-Piqué, Rafael Calama (Natalini et al. 2016)
Quercus lyrata, overcup oak 218 XD SNA7 Desha County Arkansas, USA Dave Stahle
Populous tremuloides, quaking aspen 216 XD MM-03 Mouse Mountain Fire, Alaska, USA David Spencer and Thomas Grant III 
Pinus pinaster, maritime pine 210 XD Pin Cazau, Landes de Gascogne Forest, France Didier Bert, Frédéric Lagane
Quercus velutina, black oak 208 XD GL45 Pisgah Nat'l Forest, North Carolina, USA Speer 2001
Xanthorrhoea preissii, balga 200 XD Tree 41  Western Australia D. Ward
Quercus rubra, northern red oak 166 XD GL21 Pisgah Nat'l Forest, North Carolina, USA Speer 2001
Quercus coccinea, scarlet oak 122 XD BP03 Pisgah Nat'l Forest, North Carolina, USA Speer 2001