The oldest tree in Europe is found in Italy: but how do we know? And who established it?
It is well known that nature can always surprise us with its miracles, its beauty and its power. And that the human being, although often disrespectful of what surrounds him, nourishes at the same time great curiosity for what Mother Nature offers him, too.
And that explains the fact that there are real competitions that reward trees under various characteristics. These competitions are in support of nature and want to enhance the history of the trees concerned, their connection with the territory in which they arise and with its population, as with the surrounding environment.
But let’s go with order: now is the time to know the oldest tree in Europe!
The oldest tree in Europe is a Sicilian chestnut
That’s right: a chestnut tree that is inside the Etna Park and that has been inserted inside the Guinness because, with its twenty-two meters of height (and as many of the maximum circumference of the trunk!) represents the largest chestnut tree in the world.
A truly exceptional tree because, in addition to being the largest in the world of its kind, it is the oldest in all of Europe. In fact, although it is not easy to establish its exact age, estimates suggest that it is between two thousand and four thousand years old. The chestnut of Etna attracts every year hundreds of visitors coming from the most disparate areas of the world, as well as hiking enthusiasts who go here to spend a day surrounded by nature.
Curiosity about the oldest tree in Europe: the legend
This so special chestnut is known as “Chestnut of the Hundred Horses”: legend has it that, Queen Joan of Anjou visiting Sicily with her knights, was in the woods of Etna with her escort for a hunting trip when, a violent storm fell on the area. The sovereign and her knights found shelter under the branches of the great chestnut tree, so majestic that she managed to protect them all.
A legend that was disproved when, the evidence showed that Joan of Anjou never visited Sicily; then, within the popular legend, it was replaced by Queen Joan of Aragon or in other versions, even by Isabella of England.
Another curiosity that you may not know is that, in 2008, the Sicilian chestnut was declared by UNESCO “Monument messenger of peace”.
After the oldest tree in Europe, here are the oldest trees in the world
After discovering the oldest tree in Europe, wouldn’t it be curious to find out which are the oldest trees in the world? Of course, calculating the age of a tree is not at all simple but obtaining this data can tell us so much about the Earth’s climate and the history of our planet. Of the many methods used to calculate the years of a tree, the most common technique consists in counting the rings present inside the trunk: each, in fact, is equivalent to a year.
Let’s see who is on the podium: in third place is Prometeus with his 4844 years! It is located in Nevada (USA) and belongs to the species Pinus Longaeva. Do you want to know a curious anecdote about this tree? In 1964 a researcher of the United States Forest Service, cut the trunk of the tree (still do not know the age of the pine!). Having discovered the sad event, it was decided to give the tree a name that would remind him: Prometheus, the one who stole the fire from the Gods to give it to men.
In second place we find Methuselah, 4848 years old. Also belonging to the species Pinus Longaeva, it is located in the California National Forest and rises at an altitude of 3000 meters.
And at 5066 years old, the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine takes the first place in the ranking of the oldest trees in the world. It is also part of the species Pinus Longaeva, in fact they are very long-lived trees, as the name suggests. It was discovered by Edmund Shulman and if you want to admire it you have to venture into the White Mountains, California.
Italy has obtained the great honor of owning the oldest tree in Europe: who knows that one day it can not find a place even in the ranking of the oldest trees in the world!