Behold the magnificence of Europe’s oldest 1,230-year-old pine tree

The oldest tree in Europe, a loricato pine nicknamed ‘Italus’ by researchers, is still flourishing at over 1,200 years old. Discovered by chance in 2017 growing in the Pollino National Park in Calabria, Italy, it was found to be over a millennium old by scientists using carbon dating. Growing on a steep rocky slope, it has been protected from fігeѕ and ɩіɡһtпіпɡ and kept at a cooler temperature. However, now a team from the Pollino National Park, in collaboration with the University of Tuscia, is working to safeguard the ancient tree from the impacts of climate change.

Italus – the oldest tree in Europe – at the Pollino National Park, in Cerchiara di Calabria. Italus is a loricate pine and was discovered in 2017 by chance in the Serra della Ciavole mountainside

Italus is 1,230 years old and is located at an altitude of 1,900 meters above sea level. It grows on a very steep rocky slope which protects the ancient trunk and branches from fires and lightning as well as keeping it at a cooler temperature

Studying its growth through shifting climates could also help scientists better understand how forests respond to global warming.

Italus germinated in 789 AD – the year the Vikings disembarked on English shores for the first time, according to a research paper published last May.

The tree sit at an altitude of 1,900 meters above sea level, on the southern slope of Serra della Ciavole mountains.

Carmelo Pizzuti, an official from the Pollino National Park, said the special tree needs to be preserved for future generations.

He told LaC News24: ‘We have a duty as an institution to make the scientific value of this tree known to many more people.

‘With respect to tourism, however, we must ask ourselves questions about conservation. We must guarantee the conservation of the tree also for future generations.

‘We are working to put in place important structures, including communication, so as to leave the tree standing as long as possible as it has already remained in its current position for 1,230 years.’

Carmelo Pizzuti, mountain guide and official of the Pollino National Park, inspecting Italus, the oldest tree in Europe, at the Pollino National Park

Italus germinated in 789 AD and was named after a king who ruled Calabria before Greeks set foot on the Italian peninsula

Despite the unpredictable climate of recent years, the millennium-old pine has seen a recent surge in growth.

Researchers noticed that after laying down smaller rings in its trunk for the last few centuries, the ancient pine has grown more substantial rings, which indicates better environmental conditions.

The name ‘Italus’ came from the origins of the region and is named after a king who ruled Calabria before Greeks set foot on the Italian peninsula.

Pizzuti added: ‘Italus came spontaneously, we went back to the history of our region.

‘When the ancient Greeks came to our shores, they knew that the Enotrio people already existed, their king was Italus. We can say that, in a certain sense, Calabria was the first Italy and on this basis we chose the name for the most ancient tree in the park.’

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