Most of you probably don’t think about trees when you think of the Middle East. More than likely, any thoughts of that region likely conjure up images of miles-long barren deserts for some of you. However, you may be surprised that certain parts of the Arab world do, in fact, have forests of trees.

Sure, some reading this are familiar with some of the more well-known Arabic trees of the region. For example, there are the famous cedars of Lebanon and the pistachio forests of Afghanistan. And you don’t have to know the names of plants in Arabic to be familiar with some of these trees. For example, the sap from the gum Arabic tree Senegalia Senegal is used in everything from M&M’s to gummy bears.

Today, however, we’re not going to be focusing on certain types of trees in the Middle East. Instead, we’ll be looking at three rather unique ones – the thickest, the tallest and the oldest trees of the Middle East.


The Thickest Tree in the Middle East


In the small village of Shur Kesh, Iran, is a rather large tree known as Quercus castaneifolia, in Arabic known as سنديان كستنائي الأوراق /sinyaan kastanaa’ee al’awraaq/. The Chestnut-Leaved Oak Tree (its everyday name) was measured in 2022 with a girth of 15.45 meters (50 ft.). This makes this mighty oak the thickest tree in the Middle East. However, it’s not the thickest tree in the world. That title goes to a cypress tree (Taxodium mucronatum), which measures 36.2 meters (119 ft.) around. It is located in the Mexican village of Santa Maria del Tule, Mexico.

Quercus castaneifolia, سنديان كستنائي الأوراق, /sinyaan kastanaa’ee al’awraaq/


The Tallest Tree in the Middle East


In 2020, researchers measured an Oriental Beech (Fagus orientalis) in Arabic known as زان شرقي /zaan sharqee/, found on the Ayder plateau in the Camlihemsin district of Turkey. The Oriental Beech is native to Eastern Europe and Western Asia and is well-known for its wide, shade-providing canopy. If that is the case, a lot of people must fit under the shade of this particular Turkish tree. That’s because researchers found it to be the tallest tree in the Middle East at 33 meters (108 ft.) tall. That’s only two meters (10 ft.) shy of the tallest tree in the world – the giant Redwood, الخشب الأحمر العملاق /alkhashab al’aHmar alʻimlaaq/, known as Hyperion. Located in California, it is a towering 35 meters (116 ft.) high.

Fagus orientalis, زان شرقي, /zaan sharqee/

the giant Redwood, الخشب الأحمر العملاق, /alkhashab al’aHmar alʻimlaaq/


The Oldest Tree in the Middle East


Also in California is Methuselah, an ancient bristlecone pine thought to be around 4,588 years old. However, half a world away in Iran is the world’s second oldest tree - the Sarv-e Abarqu, in Arabic known as, سرو أبر كوه /siroo ‘abar kooh/. Still, at somewhere around 4,000 years old, this Cupressus sempervirens (Mediterranean Cypress), سرو البحر الأبيض المتوسط, /siroo albaHar al’abyadh almutawassiT/ is the oldest tree in the Middle East. What’s more, some believe it to be the oldest living thing in all of Asia. Not bad for a sapling that was around when Stonehenge was completed and the Latins first set foot in Italy. 

These are just some of the unique trees you’ll find in the Middle East. Do you know of any more?  Please let us know and maybe we’ll include them in a future blog post.

Mediterranean Cypress, سرو البحر الأبيض المتوسط, /siroo albaHar al’abyadh almutawassiT/


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