Trees literally keep us rooted to the earth, and each one is a sanctuary of teeming life, which can stretch for centuries. Their diversity continues to confound us in new ways. Each day we discover something new about them. They have evoked awe, reverence, and mysticism in us. Trees confound us by their size, age, reach, and spread, and have become icons of life on earth.
Here are a few of the unique among the species that have become symbols of resilience, sustainability, diversity, and durability. They range from the largest tree in North America to the ones with the largest canopy flourishing in India.
The Oldest Living Tree On Earth: The Methuselah
Their ancient roots go a long way back, 2,500 before even Christ was born. 26 foot tall and still growing, the oldest living organism on earth stands on a desolate mountain top in California. The gnarled and twisted bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) was named the Methuselah by the scientist who discovered it.
It was a seedling when the Egyptian pyramids were being built. It was a mature 2,500 years at the time of the birth of Christ. It is presently aged 4,852 years. Its exact location on eastern California’s White Mountains is kept a secret. They are well adapted to high-altitude deserts and flourish in soil that would kill other trees. It is a dense wood and is filled with resin and can survive even after losing 90% of its bark.
The Oldest Asian Tree: The Sarv-E Abarkuh Or The Cypress Of Abarqu
The Sarv-e Abarkuh lives in the Iranian city of Yazd and is a flourishing symbol of life and beauty. It is also the oldest in Asia and is assessed to be anywhere between 4,000 and 5,000 years old. The oldest living heritage of Iran is around 28 meters high and 11.5 meters at the trunk. This slow-growing evergreen tree blooms in the middle of spring.
This tree appears in the carving of Persepolis and ancient Persian poetry. It is also called the Zoroastrian Sarv. There is uncertainty as to its origin, though it is believed that Zoroaster, the prophet, planted it during his travels.
The Oldest Clonal Tree On Earth
Clonal colonies of trees predate even Methuselah but are not individual trees. Trees like the Pando are made up of trees that are genetically identical and are connected by a single root system.
Also called the ‘Trembling Giant,’ this tree is a clonal colony that contains over 40,000 individual aspen trees (Populus tremuloides). It is in Utah’s Fishlake National Forest. Located in the south-central part of the state, the colony is an astonishing 14,000 years old.
Covering an area of 108 acres, and weighing 6,000,000 kilograms, it is being threatened by climate change and human intervention.
The World’s Tallest Trees
The world’s tallest tree happens to be a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and was named Hyperion after a character in Greek mythology. It measures an incredible 379.7 feet ( 115.72 meters). Discovered as recently as 2006 by naturalists Michael Taylor and Chris Atkins, its measurement was done with laser equipment.
A clearing near it indicates that it was close to being cut during the 1970s.
The tropical Yellow meranti (Shorea faguetiana) is also among the tallest in the world and measures 331 feet, which places it at second. This tree is in the Sabah state in Malaysia and was measured by Undying Jami who clambered up the tree and dropped a tape confirming the length.
The tree is named Menara, which means ‘tower’ in Malay. The tree is perfectly symmetrical and that has added to its height. The tree is now protected under the Canum Valley Conservation Area. Rare animals like the orangutans, the forest elephant, and the clouded leopard survive in the vicinity.
Another tree almost as tall as the Centurion, the tallest Eucalyptus tree on earth. The mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans) is around 330 feet and is in the Australian state of Tasmania. It gets its name as it is the 100th tree that was mapped using laser mapping from the air. It is also the tallest among hardwood trees and also the tallest flowering plant.
The World’s Biggest Trees
When you measure trees by volume, General Sherman wins outright. It stands 275 feet (83 meters) and has a diameter of 36 feet ( 11 meters) at the base. This giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) has a volume of 52,500 cubic feet. That is only the volume of the tree trunk excluding the branches.
The width of the crown is 108 feet (33 meters) and the first branch starts only at a height of 131 feet (40 meters), though it is relatively younger than the other at 2,000 years.
The award for the world’s stoutest tree trunk goes to the Arbol del Tule in Oaxaca, Mexico. The natives called it the ‘old man of the water’ and the tree can live up to 1,400 years. It is a Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) and has a diameter measuring an impressive 30.8 feet (9.39 meters), though the tree is just 116 feet (35.35 meters) tall.
The tree with the largest single tree canopy survives in one of India’s driest regions. The Thimmamma Marrimanu is an enduring symbol of eternal life and conservation efforts have ensured that it continues to thrive.
The tree has the greatest perimeter length for a tree and lives in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The tree got global recognition thanks to the tireless efforts of journalist Sathyanarayana Iyer who discovered it in 1989. It is the largest banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) and is around 660 years old. This tree has more than 4,000 roots that make up its canopy