March 9, 2021

Mouchão, the oldest olive tree in the Iberian Peninsula with 3,350 years

Mouchão, the oldest olive tree in the Iberian Peninsula with 3,350 years



The longest olive tree in the Iberian Peninsula is in the Portuguese region of Abrantes, in a town in this region of central Portugal of 1,500 inhabitants bathed by the Tagus River, Mouriscas, where everyone knows the old tree as Olivo del Mouchão.

The tree, with 3,350 years, has been dated as part of a project being developed by the Tras-os-Montes e Alto Douro University (UTAD) of Portugal in collaboration with the Portuguese company "Oliveiras Milenares".

The person in charge of the initiative is the researcher of the UTAD Jose Luis Lousada who, in declarations to EFE, assures that this tree "theoretically, could be eternal".

The mayor of Mouriscas, Pedro Matos, explains that this living being is in perfect condition and that, although nobody takes them, every year he gives many olives.

Mouriscas, a town with monumental vestiges and centenary wineries, has as its main tourist attraction the Olivo del Mouchão, with a height of 3.2 meters and a trunk with a perimeter of 11.1 meters.

It is one of the oldest in the world, along with other olive trees of Palestine, since, according to experts, in Bethlehem there could be some between 4,000 and 5,000 years old.

To value this natural heritage, the UTAD is dating the most relevant millenary olive trees through a mathematical method that Lousada himself has patented.

It is "a mathematical model that, based on different parameters, such as the dimension that has been acquired and its location, allows establishing the age of the tree," the Portuguese researcher told EFE.

The method was validated by means of an essay with 600 olive trees and in the last months it has allowed to date other olive trees from Portugal, France and Spain.

Of special relevance in terms of their longevity are the Spanish olive trees that are located on the Roman road of Via Augusta (coast of the Mediterranean Sea), assured Lousada, since they are trees from the Roman era or, even earlier, that " they are in very good health. "

These olive trees were very cared for by the Romans, who used their oil for lighting and also as a cosmetic, especially to wash and hydrate the body.

The Roman civilization even "attributed supernatural powers to the olive trees", hence these trees were not uprooted, as could happen with other types.

In the project of certification of age of olivos that develops the UTAD excels a copy located in the Spanish island of Menorca, that, according to the method of Lousada, has 2.310 years.

They have also certified other millenary olive trees located in the Spanish provinces of Girona and Malaga or in the French south of Bordeaux.

Another of the oldest olive trees in the Iberian Peninsula, with 2,850 years old, is in Irira de Azóia, located 20 kilometers north of Lisbon.

The secret of the longevity of these olive trees is that "they are brave and have not been subjected to grafts," argued Lousada.

These millenary olive trees have a great capacity to rejuvenate themselves, since "the oldest parts die and give way to new shoots".

"The biggest enemy of these olive trees is the man's own chainsaw", concluded Jose Luis Lousada.

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