Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Millennium-old olive trees of the Iberian Peninsula are younger than expected

Date:
May 16, 2012
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
North-East Spain is home to olive trees so old that they are known as ‘millennium-old’. A group of scientists have now studied their age. The oldest is to be found in the Catalan region of Montsià and is 627 years old making it one of the oldest olive trees recorded in Europe.

Researchers taking samples of the trunk of an olive tree (Olea europea).
Credit: CREAF

North-East Spain is home to olive trees so old that they are known as 'millennium-old'. A group of scientists have now studied their age. The oldest is to be found in the Catalan region of Montsià and is 627 years old making it one of the oldest olive trees recorded in Europe.

Due to the large size of the olive trees in the Mediterranean region, many experts have claimed that they are millennia old but "there had never been a scientific study to verify this," as explained by the ecologist Bernat Claramunt from the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF).

A team from this centre has now analysed the ages of the famous olive trees and the oldest found is 627 years of age. Claramunt states that "this is one of the oldest specimens recorded in the Mediterranean ecosystem and on the European Continent."

Lead by Jordi Martínez-Vilalta, the CREAF researchers employed classic dendrochronology methods based on the analysis of growth rings in the tree trunks. The study has been published in the Dendrochronologia journal.

The scientists analysed 14 olive trees (Olea europea) from the coastal region of Montsià in Catalonia. As Claramunt explains, "we use a technique that allows for the extraction of a small cylindrical piece of the trunk which goes from the bark to the core of the tree. This sample contains the life history of the tree." They also studied entire sections of the trunk that had been previously carved out.

Obtaining results from trunks is not easy. Claramunt warns that "there are times when the rings are hardly visible or they do not follow a known time pattern. The olive tree could also be too twisted."

The data from this study can also be useful when reconstructing the climatic conditions of the last few centuries. "As well as dating these olive trees, we have shown that this type of tree can be used for dendrochronological analysis," outlines the expert.

The legend of the millennium-old olive tree

The olive trees that captivated the famous Spanish poet Antonio Machado come from a variety that was cultivated in Palestine 6,000 years ago. This species spread West throughout the Mediterranean thanks to the Phoenicians, the Etruscans, the Greeks and the Romans. It is believed that they started to be cultivated in the Iberian Peninsula some 4,000 years ago.

There are at least 17 tree species in the world that can live longer than one thousand years and nearly all of them are conifers. The oldest known are the pine trees (Pinus longaeva) in the Rocky Mountains of North America that are nearly 5,000 years old.

"In Europe there are many trees that are considered to be one thousand years old but nobody has calculated their age," explains Claramunt. The Regional Government of Catalonia has recently changed the name of the 'millennium-old' olive trees to 'monumental trees'.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Millennium-old olive trees of the Iberian Peninsula are younger than expected." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120516093200.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2012, May 16). Millennium-old olive trees of the Iberian Peninsula are younger than expected. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120516093200.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Millennium-old olive trees of the Iberian Peninsula are younger than expected." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120516093200.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

AP (July 29, 2014) — Food scraps and other items left on the grounds by picnickers brings unwelcome visitors to the grounds of the world famous and popular Louvre Museum in Paris. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) — West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) — Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) — The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins