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800 Years Old Oak Tree
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Oak tree in Ivenak Germany about 800 years old - The great oak of Ivenack is the most massive oak in Germany, and very probably also all of Europe. Although there are a few oaks in Sweden and the United Kingdom which have a somewhat larger girth at breast height, this is, thanks to the long trunk and the great height, by far the most voluminous oak in Europe. On the sign in front of the oak a wood volume of 180 cubic metres is given. This volume seems not to be calculated by extensive measurements. Jeroen Pater and I have calculated a total wood volume of 130 to 140 cubic metres. In the whole of Europe including the UK, there are few other oaks with a volume of over 100 cubic metres. Also among other tree species in Europe, there are few trees of this size to be found; some Oriental Planes in Croatia, Greece and Turkey, and perhaps a few Giant Sequoias have a comparable volume.
The oaks of Ivenack are famous from the nineteenth century. Since then they have been called the "thousand year old oaks" of Ivenack. In 1995 a researcher, Miss Ratburg Blank, has researched the health and the age of the trees. With an increment borer she took core samples from the outer 40 cm of the trunk of several old oaks, as well for comparison also younger ones in the park. Because the oaks are hollow, she could not get a total view of the growth of the trees from their youth.
From the largest oak she counted 193 annual rings in the outer 38 cm; the rings had an average width of 1.9 mm. She estimated this oak at around 830 years, so that the tree should have germinated around the year 1165. It is possible that the growth in the youth of this oak was faster. In that case the oak could be younger. Personally I think the tree could be around 700-750 years old.
Strange enough this largest and probably oldest of the Ivenack Oaks is also the most vigorous from the nineteenth century. It seems to be an extraordinary strong and healthy tree.
March 20th, 2011
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