Leisure, Tenerife

The oldest of Europe’s ancient trees is on Tenerife

At 1,481 years old, a Canary Islands cedar located on Mount Teide has been designated the oldest ancient tree in the European Union. Its age has been confirmed by a team of researchers from the Institute of Sustainable Forest Management of the University of Valladolid (iuFOR), Rey Juan Carlos University, and the Teide National Park. Using radiocarbon dating techniques, the experts were able to date this juniperus cedrus as being 400 years older than a pine tree in Greece called “Adonis”, which up until now was considered the oldest tree in Europe.

The findings, published in the Ecological Society of America’s journal, Ecology, mark a new knowledge milestone in the Teide National Park, which never ceases to provide surprises for scientists. In a recent interview, the Tenerife Government’s Councilor for Management of the Natural Environment and Safety, Isabel García, recalled that “in 2019, the Park identified a tree known as “Patriarca” as the oldest within this protected natural area. But this new study confirms that even older specimens exist.”

Reaching this particular cedar that’s the star of the moment of the botanical world is not at all an easy task. Located on a crag of volcanic rock, accessing it requires advanced climbing techniques. The researchers had to work with a group of local climbers and cliff conservation experts to obtain the necessary samples.

Of the different trees analyzed for the study, several specimens were determined to be over a thousand years old, so scientists believe this research has only scratched the surface. Tenerife could be one of the few corners of the planet that is home to a significant number of extremely ancient trees. These venerable elders have survived at least five volcanic eruptions and still stand on cold, barren terrain with hardly any soil.

According to specialists, juniperus cedrus would develop naturally on flat land on Tenerife Island, but the havoc wreaked by humans has made it difficult to find them. The good news is that, thanks to the conservation work of the Teide National Park, the fruit of these cedars are disseminated by birds and successfully germinate in other areas beyond the cliffs.

Likened to a large laboratory in constant operation, this volcanic space protects plant and animal species endemic to the island. But it's not the only one. Other parks in Tenerife, like the laurel forests of Anaga Rural Park and Teno Rural Park are also home to specimens that are hundreds of years old. Visiting this humid tropical environment will bring you near trees and leaves of extraordinary size: an ecosystem unique in the world.

Abama’s guests and owners already know that the best places to visit in Tenerife offer incredible beauty, extraordinary coastal landscapes, and mountains where there’s always something new to discover. The news that we live near the oldest ancient tree on the continent is another superlative of which to be proud. The incredible biodiversity and natural charms of Tenerife destinations are some of the best things about this island, and we will continue to protect and celebrate them.