The world’s oldest spruce found in Sweden
In spring 2008, a 9,550 year-old spruce at Fulu Mountain in the Dalarna province of Sweden was proclaimed the ‘world’s oldest recorded tree’.
(The ‘world’s oldest’ might only be true if you swap ‘world’ for ‘Europe’ or ‘tree’ for ‘spruce’. If you want the real superlative go to ‘Pando’, the gigantic American aspen colony in Utah.)
The existing tree itself is actually not that old but under the crown of the (bonsai-sized) tree, scientists found four ‘generations’ of spruce remains in the form of cones and wood. Carbon-14-dating at a lab in Miami, Florida, showed the samples to be 375, 5,660, 9,000 and 9,550 years old respectively. ‘Clear signs that they had the same genetic make-up as the trees above them’ suggest, according to the Swedish scientists, that this tree had been alive all this time. Which is feasible because spruce trees are able to multiply with root-penetrating branches, in other words, they can clone themselves.
However, pre-dating the arrival of spruce in the region challenges the theory that the species came to Sweden from the east. Spruce is able to survive harsh conditions but would it have been possible for the seeds to travel 1,000 kilometres over inland ice that covered Scandinavia at the end of the last Ice Age?
Hence, Leif Kullman, Professor of Physical Geography at Umea University, suggests that spruce survived in places west or south-west of Norway and later spread north along the ice-free coastal strip. ‘In some way they have also successfully found their way to the Swedish mountains.’
source: TreeNews, Issue 16, Spring/Summer 2009, 27
see also Wikipedia: Old Tjikko