The ancient 4500-year-old cypress tree in Yazd

Cypress of Abarkuh


Abarkuh also known as Abarghoo is one of the ancient Iranian cities with desert architecture in Yazd Province. The name of the city is thought to have evolved from 'Bare-Kuh' meaning 'by the mountain' and there are reports that at one stage the town was called Dar-e-Kuh (Dare-Kooh) and even Bar-ghuh (Barghooh).
On the outskirts of the city are the ruins of an old caravanserai, a testament to Abarku once being a rest-stop on a branch of the ancient Aryan trade roads, also called the Silk Roads. Two old citadels, the Rabat and Shahrasb fortresses, an old-style, cone-shaped, baked mud (adobe) ice-house called a yak-chawl, as well as the ruins of an ancient settlement can also be seen in and around the town. However, one of the most famous things in Abarkooh which attracts many tourists is its 4500-year-old cypress tree. Among the symbols which the Iranians hold dear, none is as popular as the cypress tree.




This ancient living cypress tree, the Sarv-e-Abarqoo with a height of 25 meters and circumference of 18 meters is Iran's oldest living organism and the second oldest living organism of the world. Scientists from Japan and Russia have estimated its age to 8000 years and Russian scientist have estimated its age between 4,000 to 4,500 years.

The botanical specimen of the tree is Zarbin Cypress and it is a slow-growing, softwood, cone tree with cone flowers in lime color which bloom in mid-spring. The outer sheath and bark slots of the tree trunks form a network of deeply wrinkled slots.

There is a fairytale about the tree which says the tree is first planted by Zoroaster (Iranian prophet) and others also believe it has been planted by Japheth (the third son of Noah the prophet). It’s hard to say if the story is true or not.

For Zoroastrians, the cypress (Persian, sarv) is rich with symbolism. It is a symbol of life - a tree of life. As an evergreen that can seemingly live forever, it is the symbol of Amertat, agelessness and longevity - of the triumph of life over forces that have shortened the lifespan of other forms of life. It stands resolute as a symbol of freedom and liberty and justice. Its stands upright as a symbol of truthfulness, fairness and justice. 

The amazing point about this tree is that it is still cultivated after all these years. Favorable natural conditions of its location have been credited as the main reason for the tree’s longevity. The Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Yazd Province has initiated preservation measures like pesticide and opening of the surrounding areas to preserve the historical cypress tree.

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