Professor finds ancient piece of nature living along Black River


BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Imagine finding an ancient landmark right in your own backyard.

A professor from the University of Arkansas came all the way to North Carolina and found one of the oldest trees in the world right here in Bladen County.

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Professor David Stahle discovered the fifth oldest tree species in the world in our very own Black River, near Ivanhoe.

“We knew it was a remarkable natural area,” Stahle said. “Thousand-year-old trees on both sides of the road. We could tell. We’re experts. We could tell they’re old.”

Stahle thought he was coming to the Black River to find trees that were only a few hundred years old.

“First tree we cored a thousand tree rings,” he said. “Well we hadn’t found that in all our previous studies in the southeast. We hadn’t found trees quite a thousand years old and there were hundreds of those here at Black River.”

Stahle hit the jackpot when he found a tree that is around 2,624 years old.

On Thursday, he unveiled his discovery of the oldest known Bald Cypress Tree in the world, right here on the Black River.

Angie Carl, with The Nature Conservancy, says this is an amazing discovery.

“All up and down the Black River is old growth Cypress,” Carl said. “It’s a world-class river and this is just the diamond in the middle of this tiara of amazing forest.”

Carl says this is the oldest Cypress den in the world, and it’s right on the East Coast. She says it’s rich with all kinds of ancient trees.

Stahle says this discovery paves the way for future research and preservation.

“We think that if we could document the tail of the age distribution,” Stahle said. “In other words, how old they can get, the sheer magnitude of their age, their great antiquity might contribute to their interest and to their ultimate preservation.”

Stahle says this Bald Cypress dates all the way back to 605 B.C.

Carl says The Nature Conservancy is hoping to make sure all the land along the Black River becomes protected.