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Spanish millenium olive trees are not so old

North-East Spain is home to historical and enormous olive trees, but they are noit so old. The oldest is to be found in the Catalan region of Montsià and is 627 years old

A team from Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications has analysed the ages of the famous olive trees in North-East Spain and the oldest found is 627 years of age. The ecologist Bernat 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.

by S. C.
02 july 2012, World News > Europe