In the process of dating the oldest trees, which are often hollow, we developed a new method that combines tree-ring cross dating and wiggle matching radiocarbon techniques on wood samples extracted from the stem and from exposed roots. The method can be illustrated by the following steps: • crossdated tree-ring series from trunk cores reveal a multi-century tree age, and the hollow section is large enough to contain several more years (decades to centuries)• exposed roots can be cored for acquiring wood samples older than the stem cores and for construction of a floating root average tree-ring series• if synchronization between stem and exposed roots is unclear, proceed to date the root wood samples by radiocarbon wiggle matching; match root and stem tree-ring series within the radiocarbon-dated period to more accurately date the tree.This new multistep dating method allowed for refining the age estimation of the oldest Pinus heldreichii tree in Pollino National Park by 166 years, to 789 CE. This tree, which we named Italus, was 1229 years old in 2017, making it the oldest, scientifically dated, living tree in Europe. Any study that relies on tree age determination for paleo-reconstructions, for biological and genetic research on what controls longevity, or for understanding structural dynamics and succession in old-growth forests, would potentially benefit from the multistep dating method we tested.
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