Humans have a habit of shortening the lifespan of trees. We love to cut them, and we do it with amazing efficiency, damaging or eliminating forests that have existed for centuries and some for much, much longer.
The United States is no exception, but there are still small pockets of the country that are practically the same as they have always been, and researchers have recently devoted time to study one of those areas in North Carolina. What they found were several trees that easily surpbad the 2,000-year mark and at least one that is more than 2,600 years old.
The study, which was published in Communications of environmental research, examined a total of 110 trees located on a 16,000-acre site owned by the North Carolina Nature Conservancy. The trees, which are bald cypresses, are found along the Negro River.
The researchers, taking small samples of nuclei that do not risk tree life, knew that many of the specimens in the area were more than 1,000 years old, according to previous research. However, scientists were surprised to find several trees that pbaded the 2,000-year threshold and a single tree, designated BLK227, that was at least 2,624 years old.
With such large numbers, it is difficult to really put it in perspective. For a bit of context, consider that BLK227 predates the reign of Alexander the Great for more than 200 years. When the first pilgrims arrived on the coasts of the United States, this particular tree was already more than 2,200 years old. Yes, it's old.
"It is extremely unusual to see a group of old trees along a river like this," said Professor David Stahle, lead author of the study, in a statement. "The bald cypresses are valuable for wood and have been heavily felled. A lot less than 1 percent of the original virgin bald cypress forests have survived. "
Image source: David Stahle