( dpa ) - The world's oldest living tree, a spruce that is 9,550 years old, has been discovered in Sweden, researchers at Umea University said Wednesday.
The ancient spruce was discovered on a mountain range in the province of Dalarna, north-west of Stockholm and has reversed previous assumptions that the spruce tree arrived relatively recently to Sweden.
"Our results have shown the complete opposite, that the spruce is one of the oldest known trees in the mountain range," said Leif Kullman, Professor of Physical Geography at Umea University, 660 kilometres north of Stockholm.
Researchers found four "generations" of spruces in Dalarna. Using Carbon-14 dating at a laboratory in Miami in the US, they were able to establish that the four trees were aged 375, 5,660, 9,000 and 9,550 years, respectively.
Spruces can multiply with root penetrating branches, so they can produce exact copies or clones, the researchers said, noting that the oldest tree had the same genetic material as wood found at the site.
North American pine trees have previously been believed to hold the age record of 4,000 to 5,000 years.
Kullman said research on spruces may also provide knowledge about climate change.