The oldest single living organisms in the world
Bristlecone pines live in some of the harshest conditions on earth. They are only found at very high elevations near the tree line in the western United States. The soil is often rocky, the winters long and cold and the wind brutal. Yet specimens over 4000 years old are not unusual, and one tree named Methuselah, in the White Mountains of California has been dated at 4700 years by core sample.
Click the image below to return to the bristlecone photo.
These trees are famous for their gnarled appearance. Their great age and the harsh conditions often result in such slow growth that the wood is extremely hard. So hard, in fact, that when the tree dies the wood may erode from wind-blasted sand instead of rotting. Many trees that appear dead may have a tiny bit of green attached to the roots by a thin strip of living tissue.
Three accessible places you can see Great Basin Bristlecones (one of the three species) are:
1. The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, White Mountains, California.
2. Wheeler Peak, Great Basin National Park, Nevada.
3. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (a small grove).