El Árbol del Tule (Spanish for “the Tule Tree”) is a tree located in the church grounds in the town center of Santa María del Tule in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, approximately 9 km east of the city of Oaxaca on the road to Mitla. It is a Montezuma Cypress (Taxodium mucronatum), or Ahuehuete (meaning “deep water”) in Nahuatl. It has the stoutest trunk of any tree in the world. In 2005, its trunk had a circumference of 36.2 m, equating to diameter of 11.62 m, a slight increase from a measurement of 11.42 m in 1982. However, the trunk is heavily buttressed, giving a higher diameter reading than the true cross-sectional of the trunk represents; when this is taken into account, the diameter of the ‘smoothed out’ trunk is 9.38 m. This is still slightly larger than the next most stout tree known, a Giant Sequoia 8.98 m diameter. The height is difficult to measure due to the very broad crown; the 2005 measurement, made by laser, is 35.4 m, shorter than previous measurements of 41–43 m. According to the signboard by the tree (see gallery, below), it has a total volume of 816,829 m³ and a weight of 636.107 tonnes; these figures are however not independently verified, and given the same signboard’s claim of a girth of 58 m, must be treated with suspicion. It is so large that it was originally thought to be multiple trees, but DNA tests have proven that it is only one tree. This does not rule out another hypothesis, which states that it comprises multiple trunks from a single individual. The age is unknown, with estimates ranging between 1,200 and 3,000 years, and even one claim of 6,000 years; the best scientific estimate based on growth rates is 1,433-1,600 years. Local Zapotec legend holds that it was planted about 1,400 years ago by Pechocha, a priest of Ehecatl, the Aztec storm-god, in broad agreement with the scientific estimate; its location on a sacred site (later taken over by the Roman Catholic Church) would also support this.
3. Banyan Tree: Sri Maha Bodhi Tree
The Banyan tree is named after “banians” or Hindu traders who carry out their business under the tree. Even if you have never heard of a Banyan tree (it was the tree used by Robinson Crusoe for his treehouse), you’d still recognize it. The shape of the giant tree is unmistakable: it has a majestic canopy with aerial roots running from the branches to the ground. Planted in 288 BC, it is the oldest living human-planted tree in the world, with a definitive planting date!
2. Bristlecone Pine: Methuselah and Prometheus, the Oldest Trees in the World
The bristlecone pines are a small group of pine trees that are thought to reach an age far greater than that of any other single living organism known, up to nearly 5,000 years. The oldest single living organisms known are bristlecone pines, though some plants such as creosote bush or aspen form clonal colonies that may be many times older. Recently, Swedish researchers discovered a self-cloning spruce in Dalarna that has been dated to just under 10,000 years old. The existing growth in clonal colonies sprang as shoots from older growth so there is an unbroken chain of life that sometimes dates back several tens of thousands of years. However, the original ancient growth in these colonies is long dead. The oldest bristlecone pines are single plants that have been alive for a little less than 5,000 years. These very old trees are of great importance in dendrochronology or tree-ring dating. The oldest (acknowledged) living organism known is a bristlecone pine tree nicknamed “Methuselah” (after Methuselah, the longest-lived person in the Bible). Methuselah is located in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains of eastern California, however its precise location is undisclosed by the U.S. Forest Service to protect the tree from vandalism. The age of Methuselah was measured by core samples in 1957 to be 4,789 years old. In the Snake Range of eastern Nevada Donald R. Currey, a student of the University of North Carolina, was taking core samples of bristlecones in 1964. He discovered that “Prometheus” in a cirque below Wheeler Peak was over 4,000 years old. His coring tool broke, so the U.S. Forest service granted permission to cut down “Prometheus”. 4,844 rings were counted on a cross-section of the tree, making “Prometheus” at least 4,844 years old, the oldest non-clonal living thing known to man. The other two species, Pinus balfouriana and Pinus aristata are also long-lived, though not to the extreme extent of P. longaeva; specimens of both have been measured or estimated to be up to 3,000 years old. It is rumored that a specimen older than “Methuselah” has been discovered, but this has not been widely publicized.
Baobab is the common name of a genus containing eight species of trees, native to Madagascar (having six species), mainland Africa and Australia (one species in each). The mainland African species also occurs on Madagascar, but it is not a native of that island. Other common names include boab, boaboa, bottle tree, upside-down tree, and monkey bread tree. The species reach heights of 5 to 30 metres (16 to 98 ft) and trunk diameters of 7 to 11 metres (23 to 36 ft). An African Baobab specimen in Limpopo Province, South Africa, often considered the largest example alive, has a circumference of 47 metres (150 ft) and an average diameter of 15 metres (49 ft). Some baobabs are reputed to be many thousands of years old, which is difficult to verify as the wood does not produce annual growth rings, though radiocarbon dating may be able to provide age data. The Malagasy species are important components of the Madagascar dry deciduous forests. Within that biome, A. madagascariensis and A. rubrostipa occur specifically in the Anjajavy Forest, sometimes growing out of the tsingy limestone itself. Beginning in 2008, there has been increasing interest for developing baobab as a nutrient-rich raw material for consumer products.
Bonus : The Lonely Tree of Ténéré
The Tree of Ténéré or L’Abre du Ténéré was the world’s most isolated tree – the solitary acacia, which grew in the Sahara desert in Niger, Africa, was the only tree within more than 250 miles (400 km) around. The tree was the last surviving member of a group of acacias that grew when the desert wasn’t as dry. When scientists dug a hole near the tree, they found its roots went down as deep as 120 feet (36 m) below to the water table! Apparently, being the only tree in that part of the wide-open desert (remember: there wasn’t another tree for 250 miles around), wasn’t enough to stop a drunk Libyan truck driver from driving his truck into it, knocking it down and killing it! Now, a metal sculpture was placed in its spot to commemorate the Lonely Tree of Ténéré.
credited to wikipedia