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 can attain such that exceptionally old age individuals may be recognized. In addition to the original OldList, Neil Pederson at Harvard Forest maintains a separate Eastern OldList focused on old trees growing in the eastern US.

 

A new old age tree record holder was recently recognized, a Pinus longaeva 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 late 1950s but he never had a chance to date it before he died in 1958. Tom worked up the cores Schulman collected sometime around 2010, and discovered the tree's age at that time. The tree is still alive, and the age given below, 5062 years, is its age as of the growing season of 2012.

 

 

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 and is assumed to have been an ancient stem that reproduced clonally. For example, "Old Tjikko" is 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 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 solid evidence of genetic continuity between dead and living portions of a species otherwise not known to commonly reproduce clonally, I do not include such trees in OldList data.

 

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 (ca. 5000 years old vs ca. 500 years old).

 

(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 2012; 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
 5000+ years          
Pinus longaeva 5062* XD   White Mountains, California, USA Ed Schulman, Tom Harlan
 4000+ years
Pinus longaeva 4845* XD Methuselah White Mountains, California, USA Ed Schulman, Tom Harlan
Pinus longaeva 4844** XD WPN-114,
Prometheus
Wheeler Peak, Nevada, USA Currey 1965
 3000+ years
Fitzroya cupressoides  3622 XD   Chile  Lara and Villalba 1993
Sequoiadendron giganteum  3266** XD CBR26 Sierra Nevada, California, USA Malcolm Hughes, Ramzi Touchan, Ed Wright 
Sequoiadendron giganteum 3220** XD D-21 Sierra Nevada, California, USA Douglass 1919
Sequoiadendron giganteum 3075** XD D-23 Sierra Nevada, California, USA Douglass 1919
Sequoiadendron giganteum 3033** XD CMC 3 Sierra Nevada, California, USA Tom Swetnam, Chris Baisan
 2000+ years
Juniperus occidentalis 2675** XD Scofield Juniper Sierra Nevada, California, USA Miles and Worthington 1998
Pinus aristata 2435 XD CB-90-11 Central Colorado, USA Brunstein and Yamaguchi 1992
Ficus religiosa 2217 HI   Sri Lanka Anonymous
Sequoia sempervirens 2200**  RC   Northern California, USA Emanuel Fritz
Juniperus occidentalis 2200 XD/EX Bennett Juniper Sierra Nevada, California, USA Peter Brown
Pinus balfouriana 2110 XD SHP7 Sierra Nevada, California, USA Anthony Caprio
 1000+ years
Larix lyalli 1917 EX   Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada Worrall 1990
Juniperus scopulorum 1889 XD CRE 175 Northern New Mexico, USA Henri Grissino-Mayer, Richard Warren
Juniperus occidentalis 1810  XD Miles Juniper Sierra Nevada, California, USA Miles and Worthington 1998
Pinus flexilis 1697 XD BFR-46 Wasatch Mountains, Utah, USA Bryan Tikalsky, Matt Bekker, Ben Bright
Pinus flexilis 1670 XD ERE Northern New Mexico, USA Tom Swetnam, Tom Harlan 
Pinus balfouriana 1666 XD RCR 1 Sierra Nevada, California, USA Anthony Caprio
Pinus flexilis 1661 XD   South Park, Colorado, USA Craig Brunstein 
Pinus flexilis 1659 XD KET 3996 Ketchum, Idaho, USA Schulman 1956
Thuja occidentalis 1653 XD FL117 Ontario, Canada Kelly and Larson 1997
Pinus balfouriana 1649 XD BBL 2 Sierra Nevada, California, USA Anthony Caprio
Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 1636 RC?    Vancouver Island, Canada Les Jozsa 
Taxodium distichum 1622 XD BCK 69 Bladen County, North Carolina, USA Stahle, Cleaveland, Hehr 1988
Thuja occidentalis 1567 XD FL101 Ontario, Canada Kelly and Larson 1997
Pinus flexilis 1542 XD   Central Colorado, USA Dave Yamaguchi 
Pinus aristata 1438 XD   San Francisco Peaks, Arizona, USA Don Graybill 
Juniperus turkestanica 1437 XD epm0303z Boibar Valley 3, Pakistan J. Esper, K. Treydte, M. Winiger; Esper et al. 2009 
Pseudotsuga menziesii 1350 RC?    Vancouver Island, Canada M. Parker and L. Jozsa (?)
Juniperus occidentalis 1288 XD HL47 Sierra Nevada, California, USA Lisa Graumlich, MaryBeth Keifer 

Adansonia digitata

1275
± 50
C14

Grootboom

Northeast Namibia Patrut et al. 2007
Pseudotsuga menziesii 1275 XD BIC63 Northern New Mexico, USA  Henri Grissino-Mayer
Pinus albicaulis 1267 XD RRR15  Central Idaho, USA Perkins and Swetnam 1996
Juniperus occidentalis 1220 XD/EX/
C14
Bennett Juniper Sierra Nevada, California, USA Peter Brown 
Juniperus occidentalis 1172 XD DGS-19 Devils Gate Summit, California, USA Franco Biondi, Scotty Strachan
Pinus edulis 1101 XD FMC01A Nine Mile Canyon, Utah, USA Chris Baisan
Chamaecyparis obtusa 1101 XD CIL10A Cilan, Taiwan Ed Wright, Ed Cook
Pinus albicaulis 1100+ RC   Alberta, Canada D. Belcher
Lagarostrobus franklinii 1089 XD   Tasmania, Australia Cook et al. 1991
Pinus albicaulis 1050 XD   Alberta, Canada Youngblut 2003
Pseudotsuga menziesii 1040 XD ENX37 Southern Wyoming, USA Connie Woodhouse, Mark Losleben, K. Chowanski, Jeff Lukas, Henry Adams
Thuja occidentalis 1032 XD   Ontario, Canada Larson and Kelly 1991
 < 1000 years
Larix lyallii 980 XD CPL 01B 2006 Pintler Mtns, Montana, USA Jeremy Littell, Michael Tjoelker
Fokienia Hodginsii 979 XD PHFH15B Bidoup Mtn, Lam Dong Province, Vietnam Buckley et al. 2010
Pinus edulis 973 XD SUN 2522 Northeast Utah, USA Schulman 1956
Quercus robur 930 RC   Lake of Bienne, Switzerland Schadelin 1905, reported in Jones 1959 (submitted by Alexei Rivera)
Pinus ponderosa 929 XD   Wah Wah Mtns, Utah, USA Stan Kitchen
Picea engelmannii 911** XD FCC23 Central Colorado, USA Brown et al. 1995
Pinus monophylla 900 XD MIN-08 Pilot Range, Nevada, USA Franco Biondi, Scotty Strachan
Pinus monophylla 888 XD PGH-02 Pine Grove Hills, Nevada, USA Franco Biondi, Scotty Strachan
Pinus albicaulis 882 XD   Western Alberta, Canada Brian Luckman
Pinus edulis 878 XD PIC20 Northwest Colorado, USA Connie Woodhouse, Mark Losleben, Jeff Lukas
Pinus ponderosa 877 XD LCW24 NewberryCrater NM, Oregon, USA Jim Speer, Pete Clark
Pseudotsuga menziesii 870 XD GMX06 Central Colorado, USA Connie Woodhouse, Mark Losleben, Jeff Lukas
Pseudotsuga menziesii 868 XD LAN05 Western Colorado, USA Connie Woodhouse, Mark Losleben, Jeff Lukas
Quercus petraea 866 RC?   Rankovici, Bosnia Cited in Jones 1959 (submitted by Alexei Rivera)
Pinus edulis 859 XD WIL62 Western Colorado, USA Connie Woodhouse, Mark Losleben, Jeff Lukas
Pseudotsuga menziesii 845 XD LAX01 Western Colorado, USA Connie Woodhouse, Mark Losleben, Jeff Lukas
Pinus ponderosa 843 XD BRY4002 Central Utah, USA Schulman 1956
Pinus ponderosa 830 XD LCE89 Newberry Crater NM, Oregon, USA Pete Clark, K.C. Phillips
Larix occidentalis 824 XD SL040 Strawberry Mountains, Oregon, USA Steve Voelker, Lara Läubli
Pinus ponderosa 780  XD   Mount Rosa, Colorado, USA F. Brunstein
Picea engelmannii 780 XD   Western Alberta, Canada Brian Luckman
Larix siberica 750 XD OVL-5N Ovoont, Mongolia Baatar Nachin, Brendan Buckley, Neil Pederson
Pinus ponderosa 742 XD   Northwest Arizona, USA Tom Harlan
Larix lyalli 728 XD   Western Alberta, Canada Brian Luckman
Pinus ponderosa 723 XD   Black Hills, South Dakota, USA Bunkers et al. 1999

Tsuga mertensiana

722 XD
OLF14A
Cascade Mtns, Oregon, USA Emily Heyerdahl
Pinus monophylla 718 XD WRI-03 White Pine Range, Nevada, USA Franco Biondi, Scotty Strachan, Robin Tausch
Pinus monticola 707 XD PFT02 Sequoia NP, California, USA Tony Caprio
Pinus monophylla 703 XD MTI-05 Mt. Irish, Nevada, USA Franco Biondi, Scotty Strachan
Pinus monophylla 703 XD SSP-10 Shoshone Range, Nevada, USA Franco Biondi, Scotty Strachan
Pinus cembra 701 XD CALF1431 Calimani Mts, Eastern Carpathians, Romania Ionel Popa; Popa et al. 2009
Tilia platyphyllos 700 HI "Oldest tree in middle Slovakia" Castle Bojnice, Slovakia Miroslav Blaho; website at http://stromy.enviroportal.sk/strom/ bojnicka-lipa?lang=en
Picea glauca 668 XD   Klauane Lake, Yukon, Canada Luckman 2003 (Brian Luckman, R. van Dorp, Don Youngblut, M. Masiokas)
Abies magnifica var. shastensis 665 XD CL2-5 Klamath Mtns, California, USA Carl Skinner, G. Everest, T. Kastner
Pinus siberica 629 XD TPX-16  Tarvagatay Pass, Mongolia Gordon Jacoby, Baatar Nachin, D. Frank
Pinus contorta 628 XD UT 5G 48 Yosemite NP, California, USA Tony Caprio, Gus Smith, Peter Brown
Pinus jeffreyi 626  XD TGS-02 Truckee, California, USA Franco Biondi, Scotty Strachan
Picea glauca 601 XD   Aishihik Lake, Yukon, Canada Brian Luckman, Emma Watson, & Don Youngblut 2002
Pinus strobiformis 599  XD VPK02 San Mateo Mtns, New Mexico, USA Henri Grissino-Mayer, Jim Speer, Kiyomi Morino
Pinus contorta 544 XD SGT 24 San Bernardino Mountains, California, USA Matt Bekker, Den Bentley, Kristin Hendrickson, Ari Menon
Pinus strobiformis 538 XD    Pinaleno Mtns, Arizona, USA Henri Grissino-Mayer
Calocedrus decurrens 533 XD OLG02 Sequoia NP, California, USA Tony Caprio
Calocedrus decurrens 527 XD CCW02 Sequoia NP, California, USA Tony Caprio
Picea glauca 522 XD   Norton Bay, Alaska, USA Giddings 1951
Eucalyptus regnans 510±10 XD/C14   Styx Valley, Tasmania, Australia Sam wood; Wood et al. 2010
Fagus sylvatica 503 XD 1012306F Abruzzi Nat'l Park, Italy Piovesan et al. 2005
Abies lasiocarpa 501 XD   Southern Yukon, Canada Luckman 2003 (Brian Luckman, M. Kenigsberg)
Abies alba 475 XD Plot 186 tree 6  Jura Mountains, Switzerland Badeau 1996, Bert 1993 (D. Bert, R. Schipffer, M. Becker)
Picea abies 468 XD LBG Bavarian Forest, Germany Rob Wilson 
Torreya californica 455 XD   Sierra Nevada, California, USA Anthony Caprio
Picea rubens 445 RC 05BCL901a Fundy Escarpment, New Brunswick, Canada B. Phillips
Picea rubens 405 XD   Nancy Brook, New Hampshire, USA Paul Krusic 
Quercus alba  407 XD   Warren County, Iowa, USA Duvick and Blasing 1983
Quercus gambelli 406 XD FIL383 Chisos Mountains, New Mexico, USA Tony Caprio
Quercus gambelli 401 XD   North central Arizona, USA Franco Biondi 
Quercus alba 373 XD DYS08 Belmont County, Ohio, USA Rubino and McCarthy 2000
Quercus stellata 373 XD KEY13 Osage County, Oklahoma, USA Dave Stahle
Populus deltoides subspecies monilifera 370 XD F336 Theo. Roosevelt NP (N unit), North Dakota, USA Jesse and Alan Edmondson
Quercus rubra 326 XD hem79 Wachusett Mountain, Massachusetts, USA Orwig et al. 2001
Toxicodendron diversilobum 324 RC CG 11 2 Aptos, Northern California, USA Zane Moore, Steve Moore
Pinus echinata 324 XD GMX307 Great Smokey Mtns NP, Tennessee, USA 2007 Dendroecological Fieldweek Fire History Group
Populous tremuloides 317 XD 1010-2-1 Rocky Mtn NP, Colorado, USA Dan Binkley, Peter Brown
Pinus echinata 315 XD LAW38 Saline County, Arkansas, USA Dave Stahle
Quercus alba 289 XD HT50 Pisgah Nat'l Forest, North Carolina, USA Speer 2001
Quercus bicolor 285 XD RHS01a Catkill, New York, USA  Neil Pederson, M. Hopton
Quercus muehlenbergii 278 XD   Iowa, USA Duvick and Blasing 1983 
Quercus prinus 265 XD GL18 Pisgah Nat'l Forest, North Carolina, USA Speer 2001
Pinus pungens 232 XD GKA111 Griffith Knob, Virginia, USA Georgina DeWeese, Henri Grissino-Mayer, Charles Lafon
Pinus pinea 228 XD H004J Hoyo de Pinares, Ávila, España Fabio Natalini, Javier Vázquez-Piqué, Rafael Calama (Natalini et al. 2016)
Quercus lyrata 218 XD SNA7 Desha County Arkansas, USA Dave Stahle
Populous tremuloides 216 XD MM-03 Mouse Mountain Fire, Alaska, USA David Spencer and Thomas Grant III 
Pinus pinaster 210 XD Pin Cazau, Landes de Gascogne Forest, France Didier BERT, Frédéric LAGANE
Quercus velutina 208 XD GL45 Pisgah Nat'l Forest, North Carolina, USA Speer 2001
Xanthorrhoea preissii 200 XD Tree 41  Western Australia D. Ward
Quercus rubra 166 XD GL21 Pisgah Nat'l Forest, North Carolina, USA Speer 2001
Quercus coccinea 122 XD BP03 Pisgah Nat'l Forest, North Carolina, USA Speer 2001