A team of scientists led by geologist David Stahl from the University of Arkansas has published fresh data from a study of swamp cypress thickets in the Black River region of North Carolina. After a 1700-year-old tree was found here in the 80s, 6, 5 thousand hectares of land were turned into a conservation area. And it bore fruit - scientists recently found two new long-lived cypress trees in the area.
The Black River area turned out to be a real treasure for discoveries - and this despite the fact that because of the former felling for the sake of valuable timber, less than 1% of the original forest volume remained here. Cypress trees grow along the entire river and almost all of them are old - so much so that they have long since rotted from the inside. This makes it impossible to take samples and measure their age, so Stahl's team spends a lot of effort searching for whole trees.
Scientists have developed a tool that allows them to take samples without harming trees. With its help, they determined that the age of the BLK232 sample is 2088 years, and the tree with the BLK227 index is older than Navuhondosor II - it is already 2624 years old! This puts it in fifth place among the world's long-lived trees. But much more interesting is not just age, but traces of climate changes during this time, which, in the case of swamp cypress, are very clearly imprinted on tree rings.
So, Stahl's team has already found out that in 1587 a severe drought broke out in this region, which lasted at least two years. It is quite possible that this is what destroyed the Roanoke colony, whose rapid decline is still the subject of rumors and legends. Stahl does not exclude that further in the swamp along the river there will be older trees that will become living historical documents and tell about the past.