The age of monumental olive trees (Olea europaea) in northeastern Spain

X. Arnan, B. C. López, J. Martínez-Vilalta, M. Estorach, R. Poyatos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Trees can reach ages that in some cases amount to thousands of years. In the Mediterranean region, olive trees (Olea europaea) have traditionally been considered a particularly long-lived species. The main objective of this study was to assess the age of large olive trees considered to be millenarian and classified as monumental trees in northeastern Spain. We extracted cores of 14 individuals and obtained 8 sections of trees which had already been cut in the area where the largest olive trees in the northeastern Iberian Peninsula are found. The age of the sampled olive trees was assessed by counting the number of annual growth rings. Tree rings did not cross-date well, neither within nor between individuals, but boundaries between likely annual rings were clearly distinct. We found a linear relationship between DBH and tree age (in years) (Age=2.11×diameter(cm)+88.93, R2=0.80), which was used to estimate the age of unsampled olive trees. The maximum estimated age (627±110 years) is among the greatest ages reported for olive trees around the world (700 years) and among the oldest trees in Mediterranean ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-14
Number of pages4
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • Long-lived trees
  • Mediterranean
  • Olive tree
  • Tree age
  • Tree rings


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