This 9,550-year-old Spruce tree is the oldest single tree in the world. It is located on Fulufjället Mountain in Sweden. The tree was discovered by Lief Kullman, a professor at Umeå University, who nicknamed it Old Tjikko, after his late dog.
Tjikko is considered the oldest known living clonal tree. There are however many examples of older clonal colonies of trees, which are a series of trees with a common root system and identical DNA.
Tjikko has stayed alive for so long because of a process called “vegetative cloning.” When the trunk of Old Tjikko dies, the root system stays alive and sprouts a new trunk. Most trunks of the tree live for hundreds of years.
The tree was photographed by Rachel Sussman, who has been documenting the oldest living things on Earth for the last decade. Her work is now collected in a book released last week.
Sussman calls the tree “a portrait of climate change” because of how it has changed in recent years. For thousands of years, the tree appeared in a stunted shrub formation called a “krummholz” formation, due to the harsh environment. In a krummholz formation, the tree appears twisted, stunted, and deformed, to protect itself from strong, freezing winds.
Over the last century, the tree has sprouted a tall spindly trunk, caused by higher temperatures in the area. Many have attributed the temperature changes to climate change.
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