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The 9 Oldest, Tallest, and Biggest Trees in the World

by Meaghan Weeden August 31, 2023 5 min read

Giant Sequoia General Sherman tree
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Learn about the 9 Oldest, Tallest, and Biggest Trees in the World

Trees are some of the most interesting and diverse living organisms in the world. How they communicate, how they grow for generations, and how they adapt to some of the harshest environments on the planet are questions that have captured the human imagination for thousands of years.

Trees come in all shapes and sizes, with some having amazing fun facts that inspire us, and others having incredible stories of survival against the backdrop of historic events. From the tallest types of trees in California to the largest canopies in India, let’s explore the oldest, tallest, and biggest trees in the world. Whether by merit of age, height, volume, or diameter, these are the rockstars of the tree world — and incredibly, many of them still have room to grow.  

Oldest Trees in the World

1. The oldest tree in the world: Methuselah tree

Methuselah is a Great Basin bristlecone pine (pinus longaeva) that is currently, as of this writing, a mind-bending 4,854 years old. Its exact location is kept secret for its safety, but it lies somewhere among the aptly named Methuselah Grove in the White Mountains of eastern California. Methuselah and other bristlecone pines are able to grow so old thanks to many biological adaptations to their harsh environment in the high-altitude, desert regions of the Southeast United States.

They thrive in soils where other trees struggle to grow, their wood is extremely dense and full of resin, and they can lose up to 90% of their bark and still survive. With these adaptations, it’s no wonder Methuselah appears here as the oldest living tree.

2. The oldest tree in Asia: Cypress of Abarqu (Sarv-e Abarkuh)

The "Cypress of Abarqu", or Sarv-e Abarkuh, is an ancient cyprus tree (Cupressus sempervirens) that is located in the Iranian city of Abarkuh and is estimated to be between 4,000-5,000 years old. This would likely make it the oldest tree in Asia. The cyprus is a particularly notable tree in Iranian history and culture, and appears in Iranian poetry and carvings in Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of the ancient Achaemenid Empire, as a symbol of life and beauty.

The origins of the tree, also known as the "Zoroastrian Sar", remains uncertain. Legend has it that the ancient prophet Zoroaster planted the tree while traveling and spreading his teachings. An ancient figure, the Cypress of Abarqu rises above many others to make it onto our list of the oldest trees in the world. 

3. The world's oldest clonal tree: Pando

Pando, also known as the "Trembling Giant", is a clonal colony of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) that spans 106 acres of Southern Utah's Fishlake National Forest. What is clonal colony? Unlike the other entries on this list, Pando is not one singular trunk with branches, but instead many biologically identical trunks with a shared root system.

40,000 stems that appear on first glance to be individual trees, each branch of Pando is in fact, a genetically identical part of the same tree connected by a vast underlying root system that could span some 12,000 miles if laid

At 106 acres in size, 13.2 million pounds, and and estimated 8-12,000 years of age, Pando easily dominates this list. While the Pando is undeniably one of nature’s most impressive accomplishments, research suggests that the tree is shrinking in response to a plethora of threats, including over-grazing, and three diseases that commonly plague aspen trees. Thankfully, the Friends of the Pando and the Forest Service are working together to protect this incredible organism.

Tallest Trees in the World

4. The tallest tree in the world: the Hyperion

The world's largest tree by height is the Hyperion, which is a coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and is located somewhere in the heart of Redwood National Park in California. This should come as no surprise: majestic redwoods are among the tallest and oldest trees on the planet, and their existence dates back a whopping 200 million years, to the Jurassic period.

So, how tall is the tallest tree in the world? The Hyperion reaches a staggering 379.1 feet high! Discovered in 2006 by two naturalists and confirmed by redwood expert Stephen Silett, it has quietly grown for an estimated 700-800 years.

Access to this tree by recreational hikers, climbers and tree enthusiasts has been blocked by the National Park Service, with a hefty $5,000 fine for violators. This is for the protection of the tree itself, and the surrounding old growth redwood forest, after visitors were bushwhacking to the remote tree, damaging the understory and leaving trash behind. Park rangers say that from the ground, the tree doesn't really stand out, because you can only see the first 150ft — but the curiosity is understandable.

Just a few hundred feet away from this giant is a clearcut from the 1970’s. That means that Hyperion was maybe weeks away from being cut down due to deforestation before the land was protected with National Park status by the Carter administration. 

5. The tallest tree in Asia: the Menara

Second in line of the world's largest trees is a yellow meranti (Shorea faguetiana), named the Menara, that is a whopping 331 feet high. Named after the Malay word for “tower", the Menara is located in Sabah, a Malaysian state located on the island of Borneo. 

Part of what gives the Menara its great height is its near-perfect symmetry, which allows its trunk to grow straight into the air. The yellow meranti species is highly endangered due to over-harvesting, but thanks to protection efforts and the establishment of the Danum Valley Conservation Area, these awe-inspiring monoliths can live on. Some species protected by the tree include the endangered orangutan, clouded leopard, and forest elephants.

6. The world's tallest eucalyptus: the Centurion

Arguably a candidate for the luckiest tree in the world, the Centurion is the world's largest individual mountain ash tree (Eucalyptus regnans). At a height of 330 ft., the Centurion is located in Tasmania, Australia. The name Centurion came from its status as the 100th tall tree that was registered by an aerial laser mapping system.

It holds several world records, including the tallest flowering plant and the tallest hardwood tree. Centurion narrowly survived a bushfire in 2019 that wiped out much of the surrounding foliage, but left Centurion standing, though slightly singed. Centurion’s best years still lie ahead as it continues to grow — and who knows, maybe it will rank higher on a future list!

Biggest Trees in the World

7. The Biggest Tree in the World: General Sherman

The biggest tree in the world is a giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) tree that is located in Sequoia National Park. At an incredible 52,500 cubic feet, it is, by volume, the largest single tree in the world. Also known as General Sherman, this giant sequoia represents the perfect cross-section of height, width, and age.

Some of this giant sequoia's branches are larger than individual trees you would encounter in other forests and parks — and if you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting, you know the overwhelming emotion that accompanies its grandeur. 

General Sherman and other giant sequoia trees are threatened by forest fires that grow in size and intensity every year. To help protect these giants, rangers wrap the first 10-15 feet of their base with a protective foil that reduces the likelihood that fires ignite nearby.

8. The Stoutest Trunk in the World: Árbol Del Tule

While many of the world’s largest tree species are located in California, Árbol del Tule makes this list thanks to having the stoutest trunk in the world. Its Nahuatl name, ahuehuete meaning “old man of the water,” certainly lives up to its 1,400 years of age.

A Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum), measurements place Árbol del Tule's diameter at 30.8 feet — an impressive accomplishment given that it is "only" 116 feet tall. The local Mixe people believe that this tree took root from the walking stick of a God. 

9. The World's Largest Canopy: Thimmamma Marrimanu

Hindu legend has it that this tree grew from the spot where a widow, Thimmamma, threw herself onto her late husband’s funeral pyre. An incredibly notable banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis), Thimmamma Marrimanu’s great size is most apparent when viewed from above.

It has the largest canopy of any tree in the world, covering a distance of 4,721 acres. This impressive spread is only possible due efforts by the local forest department, who work to support its young roots, reinforce its larger roots, and water the tree via a specially designed underground pipe system. 

We hope that you have learned something new about some of the tallest, oldest, and biggest trees in the world. Nature is truly unpredictable, and the diversity of the trees on this list proves it. Many of these trees are protectors of their local ecosystems, and are celebrated in myths and legends. If you want to help plant the tallest, oldest, and biggest trees of the future, plant trees today!

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Meaghan Weeden
Meaghan Weeden

Meaghan works to share our story far and wide, manages our blog calendar, coordinates with the team on projects + campaigns, and ensures our brand voice is reflected across channels. With a background in communications and an education in environmental conservation, she is passionate about leveraging her creativity to help the environment!