The oldest tree in the world is a Great Basin bristle cone pine (Pinus longaeva) in the white mountains of California in Inyo National Forest. This gnarled old tree has been named Methuzelah and is estimated to be about 4,845 years old, which dates back to roughly the same time period as Noah’s ark. The exact location of the tree is kept a secret to protect the tree from the public though it looks similar to the pictures shown here.
There used to be an older specimen of the bristle cone pine which was 4,900 years old, but it was cut down by a researcher in 1964 with the permission of the Forest Service. Since then Methuzelah has been the oldest single living tree. In 2012 Tom Harlan measured a second Great Basin bristle cone pine, also located in the white mountains of California, which is believed to be 5,065 years old and has not yet been named.
Today you can visit the bristle cone pine grove where these trees are located, but because the exact location of the trees are kept secret, you will have to make your best guess as to which tree is.
There is a group of trees that are even older than the bristle cone pines in California. This group of trees has been named pando (Latin for “I spread”) or The Trembling Giant, and is a colony of clonal male quacking aspen trees (Populus tremuloides) located in Fishlake National Forest in south central Utah.
Each one of the trees in this grove is genetically identical to each other because they all come from the same root system. Aspin trees can reproduce through normal reproduction through flowers and seeds, or by cloning themselves by sending a new stem from their massive root system up through the ground, a process called suckering. Though no individual tree in this colony is older than 200 years, the root system which these trees grow from is estimated to be about 80,000 years old and is among the oldest living organisms on earth.
Because of environmental changes, scientists believe that this colony of aspen trees have probably not established from seed for about 10,000 years.
Maybe we can learn a little something from these trees about adaptability and perseverance.