A grand old tree named Gandalf

Article image - A grand old tree named Gandalf John Howes wants his ashes to be scattered beneath the 378 year old blue gum growing on his Logan property.

One of the oldest trees in Logan, Queensland, has been officially dated and named in celebration of National Tree Day last month.

The blue gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis) on a North Maclean property is estimated by an expert arborist to be 378 years old.

Its trunk is 2.38 m thick and is estimated to be 34 m high although the top has been snapped off, probably in a storm.

Landowner John Howes said he was surprised to learn the tree’s age when tested under a program funded by Logan City Council.

“I’m just a boy compared to the age of this tree,” said the 74-year-old retired blacksmith and boilermaker.

“We knew it was old just by looking at it but thought at best it might date back to around the time Captain Cook discovered Australia (1770).”

Testing by the arborist, which confirmed the tree dates to the 1640s, involved using an extremely thin drill probe which measures the resistance as it goes through the hard and soft wood of each year.

The data identifies a yearly growth pattern which enables the age of the tree to be estimated.

Arborist, Adam Tom, suggested giving the tree a name and chose Gandalf after the aged wizard in Lord of the Rings.

“We thought it was an appropriate name as the tree has a lot of character.”

The tree is located on the bank of a picturesque upper reach of the Logan River.

Like many old eucalypts, Gandalf contains a number of hollows that provide shelter and habitat for native animals including possums, gliders, owls, parrots, ducks, rosellas, kingfishers, frogs and native bees.