In the highlands of northern Greece lives a Bosnian pine tree — Europe’s oldest living thing. Scientists from Sweden’s Stockholm University, Germany’s University of Mainz and the University of Arizona in the U.S. announced Friday that the tree is more than 1,075 years old.
“It is quite remarkable that this large, complex and impressive organism has survived so long in such an inhospitable environment, in a land that has been civilized for over 3,000 years,” Swedish dendrochronologist and leader of the expedition, Paul J. Krusic, said in a statement.
The tree was found in a forest in the Pindos mountains near Greece’s border with Albania. Researchers took a core of its wood and counted the rings to determine the tree’s age.
This Bosnian pine named Adonis, after the Greek god of beauty and desire, is still a couple of thousand years younger than the oldest living tree in the world. That distinction belongs to a bristlecone pine in California’s White Mountains, which is over 5,000 years old.
The scientists estimate that the tree was a seedling in 941 AD when the Byzantine Empire was at its peak. It was 100 years old when Macbeth ascended the throne of Scotland and 720 years old when Issac Newton formulated his laws on motion. It turned 1,000 in 1941 during World War II.
”I am impressed, in the context of western civilization, all the human history that has surrounded this tree; all the empires, the Byzantine, the Ottoman, all the people living in this region. So many things could have led to its demise. Fortunately, this forest has been basically untouched for over a thousand years,” Krusic said.
This tree is one of the several found in the Pindos mountains that is a millennium old.