Rare Juniper Tree In Nyingchi Is The Oldest Cypress In The World
2019-08-27
Estimated to be around 3,233 years old, and standing a little over 57 meters (187 ft.) tall, a single Juniper tree has been recorded to be the oldest living tree in the world. Located in the Eastern Tibetan city of Nyingchi, in the Dragyib District, this amazing ancient tree actually pre-dates Buddha, and belongs to one of the unique and rare varieties of the Cypress genus known as Juniperus tibetica, or the Tibetan Juniper.
 
The 3,233 year old Juniperus Tibetica in Nyingchi Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
The 3,233 year old Juniperus Tibetica in Nyingchi Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
 
A native to the areas of southern Gansu, southeastern Qinghai, western Sichuan, and the Tibet Autonomous Region, these amazing trees are listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species since 2013, and the sites of the juniper trees are all within protected areas. Mainly found in altitudes between 2,600 meters and 4,800 meters (8,500-15,700 ft.), the Tibetan Junipers or Cypress tree are just one of around 67 species of the Cypress family of Cupressaceae, which can be found across the northern hemisphere, from the arctic to tropical Africa, and from the mountains of central America to the Tibetan plateau and parts of China.

 A 'normal-sized' Tibetan Juniper on the banks of the Yarlung Tsangpo River in Tibet.
A 'normal-sized' Tibetan Juniper on the banks of the Yarlung Tsangpo River in Tibet.
 
While many of the protected junipers in Nyingchi grow at a relatively low altitude, the highest known forests of Tibetan Junipers is found in the southeast of Tibet, where the treelines reach up to as high as 4,900 meters (16,000 ft.). Normally, the junipers trees are classed as a medium-sized evergreen coniferous shrub that grows to heights of around 5-15 meters, depending on the soil and environment, with trunks that can reach up to around two meters (6ft. 7inches) in diameter. Which makes the junipers in Nyingchi even more unique. Junipers are an important tree in Tibetan Buddhism, and are often used for incense and burning the smaller branches during religious ceremonies, such as Weisang.

 A Lama burns juniper branches to purify the air as he chants prayers to a local deity.
A Lama burns juniper branches to purify the air as he chants prayers to a local deity.
 
Given the name locally of Lhashing Shukpa, which means “Sacred Cypress Tree”, the 57-meter juniper has a trunk perimeter of around 14.8 meters, and the crown of the tree covers an area of around 0.66 hectares. Sampling analysis was first done in 2017, at the request of the district administrators, and the region’s agriculture and animal husbandry college experts calculated that the tree would be at least 3,200 years old. This dates the tree back to the period of the ancient Shang Dynasty in China, which lasted from the 16th to the 11th centuries BC, pre-dating the oldest known Tibetan culture, the Kingdom of Shangshung, which is believed to have developed from their Iron Age ancestors in around 500 BC.

 The sacred forest of Tibetan Juniper trees in Nyingchi Prefecture of Tibet.
The sacred forest of Tibetan Juniper trees in Nyingchi Prefecture of Tibet.
 
The area where the giant junipers live in Nyingchi is home to more than 1,000 other Tibetan junipers, many of which extend up well above 30 meters (98 ft.), and the total area of the juniper forest covers an equivalent of around 14 football (soccer) fields. Considered to be the largest juniper forest in the region, the giant juniper has managed to hit the World Record Certification Agency (WRCA), an independent London-based company with offices in the USA, Russia, China, Japan, India, and many other countries around the world. An unbiased agency, the WRCA are used by the Guinness Book of Records as the official certifier of world records.
TAG: oldest juniper in the world ancient cypress tree in tibet nyingchi juniper oldest in world

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