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the oldest tree on earth

largest and oldest tree you will see

By Rowan SharkawyPublished 6 months ago 3 min read

What is the oldest tree in the world? Well, if you start talking about the oldest or the largest or almost any other superlative of nature, you probably won't find a clear answer. In fact, there are two candidates for the title of "oldest tree," depending on how you define the term. The oldest known individual tree was discovered in 2012 in the White Mountains of central-eastern California. A 5,063 year old Great Northern Bristlecone Pine! This is older than the pyramids! Here is a photo of a similar Igamatsu, but now it looks completely lifeless, but that may be part of the secret to its success. The extremely cold and dry climate of the White Mountains proves to be the perfect environment to care for these ancient trees. Curiously, the higher you climb these mountains, the older the trees become, and some studies suggest that the longevity of the pines there is directly related to poor growing conditions.

Not only does the White Mountains average less than a foot of annual rainfall, but most trees grow on dolomite, a type of limestone with highly alkaline soils that have few nutrients. However, over time, unlike other trees, the staghorn adapted to this alkalinity, giving it the ability to grow even in the presence of competition. Bristle corn also doesn't use much energy to grow. In a good year, the tree's girth increases by about 0.25 millimeters. Instead, you can make optimal use of scarce resources. For this reason, ash trees tend to contain a fairly high proportion of dead and live wood, which also has the benefit of reducing respiration and water loss. Not having many other trees nearby also helps reduce the chances of those trees dying in a forest fire in the late 2000s. This means they are less likely to fall victim to forest fires for thousands of years. Researchers have discovered these thanks to a process called "cross-dating," which takes core samples from living and dead trees and matches tree-ring patterns to create a timeline stretching back thousands of years. You can determine the exact age of the tree. Our second candidate heads to the Fish Lake National Forest in south-central Utah.

It is home to a clonal colony of quaking aspens, which may be the oldest living organisms on Earth. It is named "Pando" and all trees, or trunks as they are called, within the 1/2 square kilometer colony are genetically identical. Although no other individual trees in the colony are over 200 years old, they are all connected by a single root system that is at least 80,000 years old, and in some cases even older. Weighing over 6,000 tons, it is also believed to be the heaviest known creature on Earth. How did Pando become so old? A clonal colony like Pando can reproduce by flowering and producing seeds or by producing clones of itself. In this case, cloning simply means "extending a huge root network and pushing new trunks into the ground." Pando's heart is deep underground, so it cannot be destroyed by forest fires. Recent research has revealed that pandos have not reproduced sexually for over 10,000 years. That's quite a dry period. Not surprising considering his age. That means it's up to the root system to keep cloning and keep forest fires burning to keep invasive conifers at bay. So, thank you for the hint on the evolution of the world's oldest tree! I will definitely keep those things in mind when I live to be 5,000 years old and want to live to be another 5,000 years old. And thank you for watching this episode of SciShow. If you have questions, comments, or ideas, find us in the comments below, on Facebook, or on Twitter. If you want to get smarter with SciShow, go to and sign up.


About the Creator

Rowan Sharkawy

someone who love to know anything & share it with every one

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