What's up with the really old trees in Sweden?

Salutations all,

So, I was reading about the recently discovered ancient Norway spruce grove in Sweden, and was wondering about a few things, namely, the claim that one or more of these trees are the “oldest living” on Earth.

My primary question would be, is this grove considered to be a clonal colony? Many news sources, including this article from Reuters mention that carbon-dating tests have dated at least one of the trees to be 8,000-9,000 years old, and a couple more to be in the ~5,000 year range. However, another tidbit brought up is that the individual trunks are thought to not survive more than about 600 years before the old trunk dies and a new trunk sprouts in its place. This would point to the system being a clonal colony perhaps similar to quaking aspen or other such species.

To follow up with that question: if the Swedish grove IS considered to be clonal, why is it being called the “oldest on Earth”? I bring this up because the Pando grove in Utah is considered by many to be at least 80,000 years old and possibly more, and several other clonal plant species have been dated to have been continually alive for 10,000 years or more. The estimated maximum age for the Swedish grove at this point is estimated to be about 9,500 IIRC, so is there something different about the Norway spruce species that would allow it to maintain this title?

And finally, how are scientists able to derive information on past climate from the ancient Norway spruce grove? I know that dendrochronology is a favorite method of paleoclimatologists who can infer past climate information from tree ring width, but in this case, 9,500 year old tree rings were not available. Is carbon-dating helpful in this area, or are other methods used?

I am hugely enamored with large and old trees. IMO, even if this particular grove is considered the world’s oldest, it still can’t surpass the “living driftwood” bristlecone pines in terms of being viscerally impressive. Still, if the ancient Norway spruces can help us learn more about the climate history of the planet, it will only further prove how amazing trees are :cool:

Nice post. I hope it gets some discussion before falling off the first page.

FWIW, when I first heard about this on the Swedish radio last week, complete with interviews with experts and so forth, although being unexpectedly old, nobody said it was “oldest on earth”. - Perhaps that has been attached to the story as it went along…?