World’s Oldest Living Olive Tree

Despina Georgiadis reportage illustration

While on a recent trip to Crete I went to see the tree that is said to be between 3,000 and 5,000 years old.

It is scientifically impossible to accurately date olive trees because they lose their “heartwood” and do not have rings to count. But many scientists agree that the tree in Vouves, Crete might be the oldest after dating other materials surrounding the tree.

From this tree a branch was taken to light the flame for the Olympic Games. The wind has shaped its trunk through the years which is not really its trunk, but its roots that have come up from underground to show us its gnarly beauty. Before it was discovered to be the oldest living olive tree, the people of the village used it as a chicken coop as it is Hollow and provides the perfect shelter. It is a tree of life.
I didn’t have too much time to draw it but I was glad for the short moments to see it and the surrounding landscape. Crete is such a beautiful place. Many areas are still wild and untouched by the modern world. And just as this olive tree, it shows its roots proudly and you can feel the history of the place just by looking up at the mountains and down at the sea.


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