Researchers discover in Austria oldest-known beech tree in Europe

VIENNA, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- An Italian research team has discovered in Austria a 546-year-old beech tree the oldest-known of its kind in Europe, in the Kalkalpen National Park in the state of Upper Austria.

The park stated in a press release on Wednesday that the team, led by Dr. Alfredo Di Filippo, used dendrochronology, also known as tree-ring dating, to discover that the beech dated back to the year 1474, or the late-Middle Age era. This is almost 20 years older than the beech previously considered to be the oldest, a 528-year-old tree in the same national park.

Despite its age, the tree is otherwise unspectacular, its height of under 20 metres and trunk circumference of 73 centimeters putting it in the average range.

It is however likely a sign of its centuries-long battle with climate extremes and other surrounding trees, the researchers noted.

Franz Sieghartsleitner, spokesperson for the Kalkalpen National Park, told national broadcaster ORF that the method to measure the age, done by boring a small hole into the trunk with a drill to take a sample, which is then replaced upon analysis, is not harmful to the tree. He said the trees can also withstand holes made by woodpeckers.

Over 5,000 hectares of the 20,000-hectare Kalkalpen National Park was given UNESCO World Natural Heritage status in 2017, due to the old beech forests contained within.

[ Editor: Shi Ruoqi ]


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