The world’s oldest tree, “Old Tjikko,” is a 9,500-year-old Norway spruce living on a mountainside in Sweden.
Before 2004, it was thought that bristlecone pines found on the West Coast of the U.S. were the oldest trees on our planet.
That changed when Leif Kullman, a professor at Umeå University’s department of ecology and environmental science in Sweden, stumbled upon this lonely spruce that has been growing since the end of the last Ice Age.
Standing at only 13 feet, Old Tjikko, named after Kullman’s Siberian husky, has a root system that dates back 9,550 years. Remnants of the roots were tested using radio carbon dating. The oldest bristlecone tree is only 5,000 years old, gauged by its rings.
The Norway spruce was found at an altitude of 2,985 feet in the Dalarna Province of Sweden. Kullman was able to hike to where the tree grows due to the diminishing tundra in the Swedish mountains. The treeline has been growing steadily, gaining elevation.
“A great change in the landscape is going on,” Kullman said. “Some lower mountains which were bare tundra less than a hundred years ago are totally covered by forest today.”
Old Tjikko and other old spruces in the area will help Kullman and his scientific team to study tree colonization and how species hold up with climate change.