The oldest living thing that still walks beneath the Sun upon this Middle Earth (actually North Carolina), is a bald cypress at least 2,624-years old.
Bald cypress trees over 2,000-years old have been discovered in the forested wetlands along Black River using dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating. The oldest bald cypress yet documented is at least 2,624-years old, making Taxodium distichum the oldest-known wetland tree species, the oldest living trees in eastern North America, and the fifth oldest known non-clonal tree species on earth. The annual ring-width chronology developed from the ancient Black River bald cypress trees is positively correlated with growing season precipitation totals over the southeastern United States and with atmospheric circulation over the Northern Hemisphere, providing the longest exactly-dated climate proxy yet developed in eastern North America. The Nature Conservancy owns 6,400 ha in their Black River Preserve and the North Carolina legislature is considering establishment of a Black River State Park, but ancient forested wetlands are found along most of this 106 km stream and remain threatened by logging, water pollution, and sea level rise.
Stahle, D. W., et al. ‘Longevity, Climate Sensitivity, and Conservation Status of Wetland Trees at Black River, North Carolina’. Environmental Research Communications, vol. 1, no. 4, May 2019, p. 041002. Institute of Physics, doi:10.1088/2515-7620/ab0c4a.