Caring for One of the Oldest Living Trees in the World

Bennett Juniper is quite large! Our property caretaker is standing to the right of the tree.
The Bennett Juniper is quite large! Our property caretaker is standing to the right of the tree.

Out in Tuolumne County, near the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River, is a Western juniper tree known as the Bennett Juniper. It is estimated to be somewhere between 2,000 and 6,000 years old, and some botanists think it may be the oldest tree on the planet. Core samples indicate that it could even older than 6,000 years.

The wildlife that lives in and on the tree is plentiful. There’s even a marmot that lives inside the tree and drags out pieces of dead wood occasionally — one of those wood bits was carbon dated and found to be around 2,000 years old!

With a radius of 7 feet 2 inches and a height of 82 feet, the Bennett Juniper is quite large! As you can see in the photo, our property caretaker is standing to the right of the tree, and he looks really small. The property is adjacent to Stanislaus National Forest, and is open to the public starting around mid-June for people to view the tree and talk with our knowledgeable caretaker, Ken.

At only 3.5 acres, this is one of the smaller properties the League owns, but it still involves stewardship. Because this tree is so special, our caretaker, Ken, camps nearby in the summer months and has become a great educator and ambassador for the tree and the surrounding area. See him talking about the tree in this video.

Want to learn more about the magnificent tree and plan a visit to see it in person? Check out the League’s Bennett Juniper webpage for more information and for directions  on how to get there!

Avatar for Jessica Inwood

About the author

Jessica joined the League in 2011 as the Land Project and Stewardship Manager. She has worked in land conservation since 2005 in land project and stewardship management.

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4 Responses to “Caring for One of the Oldest Living Trees in the World”

  1. Andrea Diaz - CNN Request for information


    It has come to my attention that a 2,000-year -old Bennettt Juniper tree might be in the direct path of the Donnell Fire.

    I was wondering if you could provide me with more information on the subject, regarding how close the fire is to the tree and what you guys are doing, or are able to do, to try to protect it?

    I know your team is very close to the tree, and have reported a lot of information on the tree, and I was also wondering, how did you come across the tree and how long have you guys been taking care of the tree?

    How likely is it for the tree to burned down?

    Also, how do you know is that old?

    I read on some of the history you guys wrote, that the tree also endures freezing temps, and high winds, will the heat affect it in a negative way, or will it still persist?

    I am on eastern time and it may be too early for you guys, but if you prefer to call me as soon as you get this email you may do so at the number below. But you can also replied to this email if prefer.

    Thank you for your time,

    Andrea Diaz
    | Atlanta | CNN Center
    Mobile: 917-217-0096
    Twitter: @AndreaDiazCNN

  2. Stephanie Reid

    I camped in the Redwoods it was a wonderful experience…. please keep them protected. Beautiful trees.

  3. Ted

    Huh? a 6,000 year old tree and you need someone to take care of it? Ummmm, I think it’ll be fine on its own

  4. John Morelock

    Thank you for the story about the Western juniper. I live on Whidbey Island in Washington state. We see Western junipers on the next island north. That caused me to go to one of the tree books–surely they were imports–nope. The occur naturally on some of the islands in northerly Puget Sound (Fidalgo and San Juan, maybe others).

    Just thank you for caring about trees — something I wish I had learned earlier.

    John M.


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