By Faranak Bakhtiari

Unique trees of Iran: important plant genetic resources

March 6, 2021 - 17:20

TEHRAN – Trees are one of the most important plant genetic resources, in addition to the indescribable beauty they give to natural landscapes. Iran is also rich with different species of trees, but the oldest of which are cypress and sycamore.

The oldest and most famous trees in Iran are aging a thousand or over. Of course, there are no reliable sources about the ancient trees of Iran. About 2,000 old trees have so far been identified in Iran, 1,000 of which are 300-3,000 years old.

Older trees can contribute to historiography and ecology studies of the region because as you know the number of tree rings indicate its age; the width of each circle indicates what its correspondent year had been concerning prolonged shortages in the water supply, [whether atmospheric, surface water or ground water].

Thick and thin circles respectively imply a wet or a drought year. As a result, the periods of drought and abundance can be studied from a historical point of view.

4000-year-old cypress in Abarkouh

A 4000-year-old cypress is situated next to a wall in southern parts of Abarkouh, some 140 kilometers west of the ancient city of Yazd and it is 1500 meters above sea level. Scientists have estimated that the tree dates back to 4000 years ago which is known as the oldest living being in the country.

It is 25 meters high. Abarkouh Cypress is a symbol of life and elegance in the region, and one of the most exotic wonders of the world. After thousands of years, it is still green and healthy.

In Abarkouh the cypress is called Zoroastrian cypress as well. It has been said in historical myth that the tree was planted by the Iranian prophet Zoroaster thus adding to the importance, beauty, and holiness of the tree.

In antiquities such as the period of the Achaemenid empire carvings of cypress symbolize the tree.

Venetian merchant and explorer Marco Polo described the tree as one of the most stunning cypress trees he had ever seen in Iran.

Harzevil cypress tree

Harzevil old tree is 30 meters long, with a trunk diameter of 4 meters, estimated to be more than 1,000 years old. It is vertically branched at the base, forming a massive canopy - which easily hid a band of musicians as they surprised a 19th century Shah with their tunes after he stopped for a pause during a journey.

This tree has a special value and popularity for the people of that area, the value of this cypress is so great that Naser Khousro Ghobadiani mentioned it in his travelogue.

Cypress in Iran is used with frequent symbolic references with popularity second to none. In poetry and literature, the beloved one’s poise, lithe body, and motion are likened to a cypress. Elsewhere, the tree stands as the symbol of uprightness, resistance, and freedom.

Ancient juniper

The oldest juniper tree, aging between 2,700 to 3,000 years old, stands in Shirvan city in North Khorasan province, which has a long and sturdy trunk that is divided into tree trunks.

Juniper is a very valuable and long-lasting species that grows in mountainous and high areas and has a special place in the legends and myths of Iranian people.

It has long been a symbol of immortality in Iranian culture and it can be seen in historical Iranian miniatures.

Evergreen skyscraper in forest

Sarv Kalani is the name of an old tree that is located in Kalani village, 28 km east of Kazerun in Fars province. The height of the cypress tree is about 55 meters, which looks like a skyscraper in the middle of the forest.

The cypress is estimated to age 500 to 1000 years.

Sycamore, God’s greatness

The sycamore tree of Tuyserkan city in Hamedan province is over 2000 years old and is located in the courtyard of a mosque and a neighborhood called Baghvar. Its height is 25 meters with a width of 15 meters.

In the past, the people of Tuyserkan respected this tree, considering it as a sign of God’s greatness. So that, the maintenance of this tree is very important for the people of this region.

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