Ancient Cypress Tree of Abarkooh
Also known as : Sarv-e Abarkooh
Iran is home to the world’s third longest-living tree still standing today. ‘Cypress of Abarkuh’ or ‘Sarv-e Abarkuh’, located in Abarkouh city of Yazd province has just become 4,500 years old. The tree is the world’s third oldest after a Great Basin bristlecone pine (5,062 years old) and Methuselah (4,845 years old), both of which form the same species ‘Pinus longaeva’ and living in California’s White Mountains.
Cypress has an ancient, deep-rooted tie with Iranian history, and is spotted in many symbols and old Persian poetry. Yet, the Cypress of Abarkuh is a special case all on its own.
The tree is Iran’s oldest living heritage, standing at 25-28 meters high and with a width of 11.5 meters at its trunk and 18 meters higher up around its branches.
Researchers from Japan and Russia first estimated the tree’s lifespan as old as 8,000 years. Later, Russian scientist Alexander Rouf estimated its age at between 4,000 and 4,500 years old, which placed it as the oldest tree in Asia.
Cypress of Abarkuh, while protected by the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran as the country’s third national heritage in 2007, is sadly still waiting for a UNESCO inscription.
For something as ancient as this, it is only natural to be shrouded in mysteries and legends. Some legends attribute the tree’s origin to Japheth, the son of Noah, while others believe Zoroaster, the ancient Iranian prophet and spiritual leader, had planted it. In some myths, the tree has been described to have a soul that keeps it standing throughout the centuries.
Mythologies aside, the tree’s longevity has been credited to the favourable natural conditions of its location. Nowadays, though, with the expansion of cities and tourist and car traffics, the tree’s natural habitat seems to be in a greater need to be protected. The Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Yazd has taken some measures, such as killing pests and enclosing the tree with fences, in a bid to ensure that the ancient tree would continue to live for many more years to come.