The Philippines has rich biodiversity and natural resources. There are tens of thousands of plant species distributed in its more than 7,000 islands and some remained undiscovered by humans.
Somewhere out there in the middle of the jungle, surely there are thousands of old trees in there and some may have died already due to their age, but since they are left undiscovered, it is hard to distinguish their real age.
The size of the tree cannot be considered a deciding factor to determine the age of the tree. Some species are small and some grow to huge sizes despite their young age.
This list provides only the oldest known Philippine trees discovered by humans and most of these are actually found outside the jungle.
Balete, acacia, and mangoes – are some of the biggest and oldest trees in the Philippines, but none of these is considered endemic and native to the Philippines. These trees did not grow naturally inside Philippine jungles unless there is human intervention.
The following is the list of the oldest Philippine trees known to humans.
1. Canlaon Century Balete Tree
The Balete tree (Ficus benjamina) inside the OISCA Farm in Lumapao, Canlaon City, Negros Oriental, Philippines is estimated by botanists from Silliman University to be around 1,328 years old. It would take at least 42 men to encircle its trunk.
At the heart of this wide tree trunk is a cavity where lizards, bats, and many insects have made it their home. With fireflies lighting it at night like a year-round Christmas tree, it is one of the city’s main tourist attractions.
The Canlaon Century Balete Tree is considered the oldest publicly known tree in the Philippines.
2. Millennium Tree
A Balete tree locally called “Millennium Tree” in Barangay Quirino, Maria Aurora, Aurora province in the Philippines is claimed to be the largest of its kind in Asia. It is estimated to be about 600+ years old and 60 meters (200 ft) tall with its roots about 10 meters (33 ft) to 15 meters (49 ft) in diameter. It is possible for adult people to squeeze into the center of its root network.
3. Centennial Bitaug Tree
The Bitaug tree (Calophyllum inophyllum) also known as Palo Maria tree, is a 500-year-old tree Magallanes, Agusan del Norte.
Local historian Florante More, who nominated the Bitaog tree (Calophyllum inophyllum) as the oldest tree in 1998, said the trunk of the tree measures 290 centimeters in diameter.
Officials of the provincial government of Agusan del Norte and the Department of Tourism inaugurated over the weekend the tourist center to accommodate some 200 daily visitors in the village of Caloc-an in Magallanes to view the tree, which in June 1998, was declared Philippine Centennial Tree.
4. Siquijor’s Century-Old Balete Tree
A 400-year-old Balete tree in Barangay Campalanas in the town of Lazi, in Siquijor province, is believed to be the oldest and the biggest in the province. What is also unusual about this tree is the spring that emanates from the base of the tree and flows straight into a man-made pool.
5. Kalumpang Tree
The kalumpang tree (no image available) located at Barangay Batchelor East, Natividad, Pangasinan is estimated to be 250 years old.
Bangar (scientific name: Sterculia foetida L.) belongs to the family Sterculiaceae. Its English name is Indian Almond, also Pon tree. It is known by different names in various parts of the country. It is Bangar in Ilocos Norte and Abra; Kalumpang in Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bataan, Mindoro, Palawan, Quezon, Camarines provinces, Iloilo, and Cotabato; and karumpang in Davao.
6. Giant Toog Tree
This giant toog tree (Petersianthus quadrialatus) in Barangay Alegria, San Francisco (San Franz), in Agusan Del Sur is considered to be the tallest and one of the oldest trees in the Philippines with an estimated age of 230 years.
This particular Toog tree stands 318 feet with a diameter of 7 meters at its base. From a distance, the tree looks like a towering giant amidst a crowd. The tree was judged as the tallest of all toog trees by the Tree Preservation Foundation of the Philippines inc. in 1980.
7. Giant Dao
This giant Dao (Dracontomelon dao) located at Biak-na-Bato National Park in San Miguel Bulacan, is considered to be the biggest Dao tree in the Philippines and has an estimated age of around 210 years old.
Dao is a forest tree that forms huge buttress roots to support its humongous size and thick canopy. It is a member of the family Anacardiaceae, which makes it related to cashew and mango trees.
8. Aguinaldo’s Chico
The Chico tree (Manilkara sapota L.), one of the trees in the backyard of the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite province, was planted by General Aguinaldo himself and was said to be one of his favorites, according to a former museum gardener, 70-year-old Vener Vales.
The fruit tree was believed to be planted around 1890 giving the tree 128 years in existence as of 2018.
9. La Union Centennial Tree
La Union Centennial Tree (Acacia concinna) is located at Carcarmay, Bacnotan, La Union, and is said to be planted by a certain Inocencio Mendioro in 1896, making the tree 122 years old as of 2018.
The La Union Centennial Tree was proclaimed as one of the 13 other Philippine Centennial Trees under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order No. 98-25 on 03 June 1998.
Sadly, the tree collapsed in August 2020.
10. Kalayaan Tree
The centuries-old Kalayaan Tree or Siar (Peltophorum pterocarpum), located in a churchyard in Malolos, Bulacan province, has been a living witness to many historic events that transpired in the area.
It was in Barasoain Church where three important events of our country took place: the convening of the First Philippine Congress on Sept. 15, 1898; the promulgation of the Philippine Constitution, popularly known as the Malolos Constitution on Jan. 21, 1899; and the inauguration of the First Republic on Jan. 23, 1899, establishing the Philippines as the first democratic country in Asia.
The Siar was then a young tree standing a few meters from the convent where Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo found temporary refuge. Revolutionary field officers waited under its shade to see the general and report on the battles won and lost by the revolutionaries. It was where Katipuneros waited for battle orders or military missions.
Frequently Asked Questions Related to Trees
What are the most common native trees in the Philippines?
Some of the most common native trees in the Philippines are Katmon, Molave, Bani, Ilang-Ilang, Banaba, Malabulak, Dapdap, Salingbobog, and Narra. Planting local trees enables us to help the local wildlife live and thrive.
How many native trees are there in the Philippines?
According to a non-profit organization focusing on natural resources, the Philippines has 3,600 identified native trees, of which 67% are endemic, and can only be found in the country.
What is the famous tree in the Philippines?
In case you’ve forgotten your grade school social studies, the Narra is actually the national tree of the Philippines. It can grow up to 30 meters high and its short stems can spread into luxurious branches. Its beauty lies in its dainty yellow flowers, which bloom between February and May. Narra is arguably the most famous tree in the Philippines and is the most expensive local wood when turned into lumber.
Is the Acacia tree native to the Philippines?
Acacia confusa is a perennial tree native to the Philippines and most parts of South-East Asia. Some common names for it are acacia petit feuille, small Philippine acacia, Formosa acacia (Taiwan acacia), Philippine Wattle, and Formosan koa. It grows to a height of 15 m. The tree has become very common in many tropical Pacific areas, including Hawaii, where the species is considered invasive.
What is the rarest tree in the Philippines?
Lapnisan is considered the rarest and critically endangered tree in the Philippines. There is a gold rush happening in the jungles of the Philippines. The treasure is one of the rarest trees in the world: Lapnisan or agarwood. It is also the world’s most expensive tree.
What is the strongest tree wood in the Philippines?
Xanthostemon verdugonianus, commonly known as mangkono or Philippine ironwood, is a species of plant in the family Myrtaceae. It is endemic to the islands of the Visayas, Palawan, and northeastern Mindanao. It is valued for its extremely durable and heavy timber. It is threatened by habitat loss. Xanthostemon verdugonianus is known to be the hardest Philippine hardwood species.
Where can we find Narra tree in the Philippines?
Narra trees can be found all over the country. You can see a lot of them along the South Luzon Express Way (SLEX). The Narra trees grow all over the Philippine islands and are mostly found and grown in Bicol, Mindanao, and the Cagayan Valley forests.
What is the oldest tree in Asia?
The “Cypress of Abarqu”, or Sarv-e Abarkuh, is an ancient Cyprus tree (Cupressus sempervirens) located in Abarkuh, Yazd Province, Iran, and is estimated to be between 4,000-5,000 years old. This would likely make it the oldest tree in Asia.
What is the oldest tree in the world?
The Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva) has been deemed the oldest tree in existence, reaching an age of over 5,000 years old. The bristlecone pine’s success in living a long life can be attributed to the harsh conditions it lives in. The tree species can be found in the higher mountains of California, Nevada, and Utah.