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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

3350 Years Old and Counting

The "Oliveira do Mouchao" claims to be the oldest olive tree in the Iberian peninsula and one of the oldest in the world. It is hidden away in a small hamlet called Mouriscas, down a dusty lane next to a contemporary olive orchard, in Abrantes Portugal.


It still bears tiny black olives, and it is believed that it will continue to do so for some years yet.


A small sign accompanying the tree proudly states the following......

It is certified that this olive tree, with an average perimeter at breast height of 652 cm, an average perimeter of the stump of 1112 cm and a stem height of 32 cm is 3350 years old (margin of error 2%).


This evaluation is based on a data study collected in the Alentejo region, carried out by a team of investigators from the Forestry Products Laboratory and the Modelling Unit of the Forestry Department of the University of Tras-os-Montes and Alto Douro, according to methodology described in Portuguese Patent NP 104183.


So there you have it. It's old.


It's so old that when this tree was a mere sapling Ramesses the Great was on the throne of Egypt, and the Bronze Age was collapsing and being replaced with the Iron Age. The olives it has produced could well have been enjoyed by the Celts, the Iberians, the Lusitanians, the Romans, the Visigoths and the Arabs, all of whom occupied this place during the lifetime of the tree.



At its base, it still produces young shoots.


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