Meet Adonis, Europe’s oldest living inhabitant

University of Mainz

That distinction belongs to a bristlecone pine in the White Mountains of California over 5,000 years old.

The researchers named the tree Adonis, after the figure in Greek mythology best known for being so insanely gorgeous that even Aphrodite, the goddess of love, couldn’t resist him. The scientists counted the rings, then compared some of the nearby trees to one another to account for any anomalies (sometimes a ring won’t reach all the way around a tree, so the core seems to miss a year, for example).

Scientists were looking for hints about the story of climate change and human influences when they found a 1,075-year old Pinus Hel dreich ii, known as Bosnian pine, which is the oldest known living tree in Europe.

Krusic led the expedition that resulted in the discovery of the ancient living tree.

Some of the tree rings were uncounted, as Krusic says they didn’t reach the center.

Some other trees have been estimated to be a lot older than Adonis, but therein lies the rub.

Many years ago I read a thesis about this very interesting forest in Greece”, Krusic said. The Navarino Environmental Observatory (NEO) conducted the expedition as part of their larger work studying climate change. Such trees have stayed preserved on the ground for thousands of years mainly because of the dry air that characterizes that particular region. “Wasn’t there a story about a really old shark just last week?” “We’re just reporting the actual ring count”.

1441 – Adonis is 500 years old. But those trees are clonal, reproducing asexually over and over again throughout history.

The team is calling the pine the oldest living inhabitant in Europe and this may seem confusing to some as there are many older trees in Europe, some of which have lived for almost 10,000 years.

Krusic affirmed that the Bosnian pine his team found is a unique individual unable to rely on a mother plant. “It can not rely on a mother plant, or the ability to split or clone itself, to survive”.

This tree has, itself, lived through more than a thousand years of history. Estimation does not make an ancient tree, at least in the eyes of scientists.

But Adonis would have witnessed its fair share of history, including the Byzantine Empire at its peak as well as the subsequent rise and fall of the Ottoman empire. So many things could have led to its demise. “Fortunately, this forest has been basically untouched for over a thousand years” Krusic said, as reported by A century later, Adonis was a relatively young tree when Macbeth was crowned King of Scotland, and the Chinese published a book about gunpowder. And, as it happens, Adonis lives in nature’s version of a retirement home – several of Adonis’ neighbors are also around 1,000 years old.

1191 – Adonis is 250 years old. That same year Johannes Gutenberg was about to try out the first printing press. Isaac Newton has formulated his Laws on Motion.