What's The Oldest Tree in the World? | Summary and Q&A

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June 6, 2013
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What's The Oldest Tree in the World?

TL;DR

The world's oldest trees are a Great Northern Bristlecone Pine in California and a clonal colony of Quaking Aspen in Utah.

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Key Insights

  • 🌲 The oldest known individual tree, a Great Northern Bristlecone Pine, survives in the White Mountains of California due to its adaptation to the climate.
  • 👻 The harsh growing conditions of alkaline soil and low rainfall have allowed Bristlecones to grow with little competition.
  • 💀 Bristlecone Pines have a slow growth rate and a high proportion of dead to live wood, which reduces energy loss and vulnerability to forest fires.
  • 🥶 The clonal colony of Quaking Aspen, Pando, is the oldest living thing on Earth and reproduces through cloning its root system.
  • 👻 Pando's root system allows it to survive forest fires and keep invading conifers at bay.
  • 🌲 Crossdating, a process involving the analysis of tree rings, is used to determine the age of ancient trees.

Transcript

What is the oldest tree in the world? Well, when you start talking about the oldest or biggest, or almost any other superlative in nature, you're unlikely to find a cut and dry answer. There are, in fact, 2 contenders for oldest tree and it depends on how you define the term. The oldest known individual tree was discovered in 2012 in the White Moun... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the oldest known tree in the world?

The oldest known tree is a Great Northern Bristlecone Pine in California that is 5,063 years old.

Q: How do Bristlecone Pines survive in the harsh conditions of the White Mountains?

Bristlecone Pines have adapted to the high cold, arid climate and alkaline soil of the White Mountains, which has allowed them to thrive with less competition.

Q: What is the significance of Bristlecones having a high proportion of dead to live wood?

The high proportion of dead to live wood reduces respiration and water loss in Bristlecone Pines, contributing to their longevity and resistance to forest fires.

Q: How does the clonal colony of Quaking Aspen named Pando reproduce?

Pando reproduces by cloning itself through extending its extensive network of roots, resulting in new stems. It hasn't reproduced sexually in over 10,000 years.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The oldest known individual tree is a 5,063-year-old Great Northern Bristlecone Pine in the White Mountains of California.

  • The longevity of Bristlecone Pines is attributed to their adaptation to the high cold, arid climate and alkaline soil of the White Mountains.

  • A clonal colony of Quaking Aspen in Fishlake National Forest, Utah, named Pando, is the oldest living thing on Earth, with a root system at least 80,000 years old.

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