2,624-Year-Old Tree Found in a North Carolina Swamp

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2,624-Year-Old Tree Found in a North Carolina Swamp

 

Researchers are studying tree rings in North Carolina in order to gather information about the climate history of eastern United States. However, they found much more than that – a tree that is older than Christianity, the Roman Empire, and the English Language.

 

Photo Credit: NC Wetlands via flickr

 

A study published in the journal Environmental Research Communications reported on a bald cypress tree (Taxodium distichum) that's at least 2,624 years old discovered in Black River, North Carolina. This confirmed that the bald cypress tree is now the planet’s oldest tree species. Also, it is the fifth-oldest species of non-clonal tree on Earth along with Great Basin bristlecone pines (Pinus longaeva), alerces (Fitzroya cupressoides), giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum), and Sierra juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) trees.

 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

 

Live Science, a science news website that features groundbreaking developments in science, space, technology, health, the environment, our culture, and history, reported that this is not the first time researchers found a particular strand of bald cypress trees in the Black River's Three Sisters Swamp that is thousands of years old. The earlier study discovered several trees between 1,000 and 1,650 years old. Aside from the 2,624-year-old tree reported above, they also found a 2,088-year-old cypress in the same swamp. This suggests that there are many other old trees located there.

 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

 

"Because we have cored and dated only 110 living bald cypress at this site, a small fraction of the tens of thousands of trees still present in these wetlands, there could be several additional individual bald cypress over 2,000-years old along the approximately 100 km (62 miles) reach of Black River," the researchers wrote.

However, these ancient trees are also threatened by ongoing logging and biomass farming operations. It is also at risk of being flooded by rising sea levels caused by anthropogenic global warming. "The discovery of the oldest known living trees in eastern North America, which are in fact some of the oldest living trees on earth, provides a powerful incentive for private, state, and federal conservation of this remarkable waterway," the researchers added. 

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