“Old Tjikko” is a several millennia-old living Norway spruce. Situated on the scrubby Fulufjället Mountain of Dala...
“Old Tjikko” is a several millennia-old living Norway spruce. Situated on the scrubby Fulufjället Mountain of Dalarna province in Sweden, it is a clonal tree that is more than 9,550 years old. Originally famed as "world's oldest tree", this 16-foot-tall conifer is currently recognized as the oldest living Picea abies and the third oldest clonal tree in the world.
Even though there’s a small unmarked path that leads through the Naturum park where this tree is, the rangers rather guide the interested visitors on a free guided tour from the park’s entrance to the tree’s base for environmental preservation.
Leif Kullman, a professor of Physical Geography at Umeå University and geologist, discovered the tree along with his team. He named the tree "Old Tjikko" after his late dog’s nickname.
Old Tjikko is a living Ice Age relic in a true sense. This single-stemmed clonal was established not long after the glaciers diminished from Scandinavia after the last ice age.
Professor Leif Kullman told a Swedish tabloid, ‘Aftonbladet’,
“During the ice age sea level was 120 meters lower than today and much of what is now the North Sea in the waters between England and Norway was at that time forest. Winds and low temperatures made Old Tjikko “like a bonsai tree…Big trees cannot get as old as this.”
The researchers estimated the age of the tree by carbon dating of its root system since dendrochronology would have caused damage. According to the study, its roots date back to 375, 5,660, 9,000, and 9,550 years ago. And, the tree's stems do not live more than 600 years.
However, carbon dating isn’t accurate enough to clearly define the exact year of a tree sprouting from the seed. But based on the estimated age, the tree is assumed to have sprouted around 7550 BC.
A bunch, of nearly 20 spruce trees, has been found in the same area and all of them are more than 8,000 years old.
The tree’s trunk is estimated to be just a few 100 years old, but the plant has survived for a much longer duration only because of a process is known as layering. Layering occurs when a branch comes in contact with the ground new root sprouts. Another process is vegetative cloning which occurs when the tree trunk dies but the root system still survives and may also sprout a new trunk.
The harsh and forbidding tundra climate kept the Old Tjikko tree in stunted shrub form (also known as a krummholz formation) for thousands of years. And as the weather turned warmer in the last century (20th century) due to global warming, the shrub has sprouted into a full-fledged tree thereby having a normal tree formation.
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