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What Are The Oldest Trees on Earth? | BeCause Tees

What Are The Oldest Trees on Earth?

The world's oldest trees still stand tall, guarding ancient forests and giving us a glimpse into our past. They have seen glaciers come and go, and they've been witness to the rise and fall of civilizations. These ancient trees hold secrets that scientists are only just discovering. So, what are the oldest trees on Earth? Let's find out!

Great Basin Bristlecone Pine Tree

The World's Oldest Tree Species

The Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva) is the oldest living species of tree on Earth. Not only do they take on the title of world's oldest tree species, but Great Basin Bristlecone Pines are also believed to be the oldest living things in the world.

This ancient species of trees is incredibly rare and can only be found in 3 states in the western United States:

  • California
  • Nevada
  • Utah

Great Basin Bristlecone Pines grow at an altitude of between 5,600 feet and 11,200 feet. They tend to reach heights of around 60 feet at low elevations, so they're far from being the world's tallest trees.

The Oldest Tree on Earth

Methuselah is the oldest known living tree on Earth, with a confirmed age of 4,854 years. Methuselah is a Great Basin Bristlecone Pine located along the Methuselah Trail in the Inyo National Forest in California. The exact location of the world's oldest tree is kept secret in order to protect it.

Another Great Basin Bristlecone Pine named Prometheus had a verified age of over 4,900 years, but it was cut down accidentally in 1964 and now the stump is all that remains. The exact details of how the tree got destroyed remain a mystery, although we know a geographer named Donald R. Currey was researching the tree and area at the time. The National Park Service provides more information about the Prometheus story

It may well be the case that there are more Great Basin Bristlecone Pines that haven't yet been dated that may be found to be even older in age. 

Great Basin Bristlecone Pine Tree

Explaining Great Basin Bristlecone Pines Lifespans

Looking at these trees feels like traveling back in time because they genuinely do look their age. Gnarled, wiry, and knotted bark with bare branches make them look as though they're skeletal remains of a tree that once was, but they are still miraculously alive. So, how do the world's oldest trees survive for so long?

Evolution

The long lifespans of the oldest trees on Earth are mainly thanks to the harsh climate they have adapted to over time. Through evolution, they have adapted to survive harsh conditions, clinging to life with a firm grip.

Dead Wood

Incredibly, the observation that these ancient trees look a bit skeletal or more simply put, dead, is partially true. It's conjectured that the reason they live such long lives is due to the fact that so much of the tree's wood is actually dead. In some of the oldest examples of the species, only a thin strip of living wood connects a few living branches and pine needles to the root system.

Great Basin Bristlecone Pine Tree Closeup

All of the dead wood helps serve as a protective layer against the elements and any crawling critters who could harm the trees. Bristlecone Pines have incredibly dense, resinous wood that repels insects and animals that normally source shelter or food from trees, plus it provides the tree with resistance from fungi and erosion.

Reduced Risk from Forest Fires

Living at high altitudes and surrounded by little other vegetation allows them to have a low risk of being affected from any forest fires.  

The oldest trees on Earth are a mystical gate into another time on this planet. Great Basin Bristlecone Pines are some awe-inspiring natural wonders of the world, many of which have been around for thousands of years. Celebrate the wonders of trees with a hand-drawn tree design from our Trees Collection

Tree shirts, hoodies, and sweatshirts

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