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What Is the Oldest Fruit Tree in the World?

Updated July 20, 2017

There are some wonderful heritage trees in the world; some can be more than 2,000 years old. Among those are some special trees that provide fruits that are important to the region in which they grow. Some trees provide fruits from which the kernel or nut is eaten. Because it's difficult to put an exact age to some trees, there is some dispute as to which ones are actually the oldest.

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Olive (Olea Europaea)

There are two olive trees that vie for the title of "world's oldest." One is called Cormac's Tree. It's located on the island of Sardinia in Italy and is believed to be more than 3,000 years old. Another, called the Elia Bouybon olive, is located in Greece and is estimated to be between 2,000 and 5,000 years old. Both trees have massive tangled trucks that provide almost as much interest for their fantastic architectural form as they do for their historical significance.

Fig (Ficus)

A fig tree (Ficus regiliosa) called the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is located in Sri Lanka and said to be the oldest tree planted by human hands. Planted in 288 B.C., it is considered sacred because it's said to be a sapling from the tree under which the Buddha became enlightened. In the Philippines, there is a fig tree (Ficud lumabao) called the Wonder Balete that is 1,328 years old. It takes 42 people linking outstretched hands to embrace it. It looks almost magical when thousands of fireflies alight on it, and it houses lizards and bats, which use it as a protective alcove.

Pear (Pyrus communis)

The Endicott Pear is located in the United States, in Danvers, Massachusetts. It is believed to be the oldest cultivated fruit tree in North America. Various reports say that it was planted sometime between 1632 and 1649. The name Endicott comes from the governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony at the time, John Endicott, and it's believed he imported the tree from England.

Chestnut (Castanea sativa)

The chestnut is a tree that produces a spiky fruit, and from this fruit comes a shiny edible nut. The oldest known chestnut in the world is located in Sicily on the slopes of Mt. Etna. It's called the Tree of 100 Horses, and it's thought to be between 2,000 and 4,000 years old. It's listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the tree with the greatest girth, measuring 190 feet around in 1780. Its nickname comes from a legend where the queen of Aragon and her 100 knights took shelter under the tree during a thunderstorm. The tree today has split into multiple trunks.

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About the Author

Lori Norris has been writing professionally since 1998, specializing in horticulture. She has written articles for the Oregon Landscape Contractors Association, chapters of the certification manual for the Oregon Association of Nurseries and translated master gardener materials into Spanish. Norris holds a Bachelor of Arts from Linfield College.

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