It could be one of the world's oldest living organisms after carbon dating measured the age of the tree at 2624 years old.

The tree which had been growing undisturbed in a patch of Carolina swampland for two and a half millennia was discovered by accident. A group of Geologists from the University of Arkansas stumbled upon the woodland giant during a study.

The woodland giant: The Carolina bald cypress is thought to be 2624 years old. Photo / Supplied
The woodland giant: The Carolina bald cypress is thought to be 2624 years old. Photo / Supplied

Using carbon dating and ring measurements, the tree is believed to be older than Tāne Mahuta.

Locked within the lignified rings of the bald cypress tree is a unique record of the changing climate from pre-industrial planet.

Advertisement

However, the threat of rising water levels from a warming climate is the biggest danger to this tree which has seen so much.

It was discovered in an untouched ecosystem along the Black River, whose inhospitable and difficult terrain has barely seen human contact.

The bald cypress, Taxodium distichum, is one of the oldest cross-pollinating trees in the world.

Prof. David Stahle discovered the tree in the Black River reserve. Photo / Supplied
Prof. David Stahle discovered the tree in the Black River reserve. Photo / Supplied

Prof. David Stahle, who made the discovery, has been scouring the 16000 acre plot for 34 years.

Previously, the oldest tree he had catalogued was a 1700 year old tree that he discovered in 1988.

It is exceedingly unusual to see an old-growth stand of trees along the whole length of a river like what he observed.

Prof. Stahle has witnessed the risks of logging and climate change faced by the trees, telling the Daily Mail:

"Bald cypress are valuable for timber and they have been heavily logged.

Advertisement

"Way less than 1 percent of the original virgin bald cypress forests have survived."

These ancient forests have helped Geologists and researchers discover periods of flood and drought from pre-colonial era before 1492.

"This ancient forest gives us an idea of what much of North Carolina's coastal plain looked like millennia ago," said Katherine Skinner of The Nature Conservancy.

The inspiring discoveries of tree species that pre-date the Romans have helped turn the area into a force for conservation.

Trees from before history

The Vouves olive tree at Kavusi, the oldest known olive tree. Photo / Getty Images
The Vouves olive tree at Kavusi, the oldest known olive tree. Photo / Getty Images

Olive Tree of Vouves, Crete

The Greek island of Crete is home to a gnarled olive tree that has been producing fruit for over 3000 years.

The Senator, FloridaThe oldest bald cypress was thought to have been almost 4000 years old, until it was sadly damaged by fires in the Florida woodland.

The Methusela tree, an ancient Bristlecone Pine tree in California. Photo / Getty Images
The Methusela tree, an ancient Bristlecone Pine tree in California. Photo / Getty Images

Methusela, California

The ancient bristlecone pine is through to be almost biblically old, at 4850 years.

Llangernyw Yew, Wales
The Yew tree in front of St. Dygain's Church in Llangernyw is far older than the chapel. At 4000 years old the Bronze Age yew predates Christianity and is still growing.

Tāne Mahuta in the Waipoua Forest. Photo / Getty Images
Tāne Mahuta in the Waipoua Forest. Photo / Getty Images

Tāne Mahuta, New Zealand

Northland's "King of the Forest" is estimated to be almost 2500. The giant kauri was already well established long before Kupe arrived in Aotearoa.