News and Blog Articles
News and Blog Articles
As you might remember from some of our Tree of the Month articles, many common species in our area have pretty long lifespans. For example, in places like Savannah and Charleston, the southern live oaks you see there are likely to be at least 150 years old. Loblolly pines, which are common to the Athens area, can be expected to live up to 300 years in favorable conditions.
But what’s the longest living tree?
The first species that comes to mind is probably the redwood. Those towering behemoths are surely some of the oldest in the country, if not the world, right?
That’s pretty impressive, but redwoods are by no means the longest-lived tree species out there. In fact, they are comparatively going through their angsty teen years. Species such as the bald cypress, chestnut, Grecian olive, and sequoia have recorded members well over 3,000 years old.
The World’s Oldest Living Tree
So which tree is actually recognized as the oldest on the planet? Until just a few years ago, that title belonged to a humble bristlecone pine known as Methuselah.
You might remember from Sunday School that Methuselah was the longest-lived person in the bible, reaching the ripe old age of 969 years. But that’s pennies compared to the age of Methuselah the bristlecone pine.
By most estimates, the tree Methuselah is believed to be over 4,852 years old. Aside from microscopic organisms whose ages we can’t definitely confirm, that makes Methuselah the oldest living thing on the planet.
This ancient tree resides in the Inyo National Forest, somewhere between the Sierra Nevada range in California and the California-Nevada border. Its exact location is undisclosed by the US Forest Service to prevent vandalism, but you can visit the Inyo National Forest and see plenty of other bristlecone pines that are similarly ancient.
But wait – we said Methuselah was the oldest living tree up until a few years ago. What about now?
In 2016, another bristlecone pine in the Inyo National Forest was discovered that is believed to be over 5,000 years old, beating out Methuselah by at least 150 years. This tree has not been given a name, and is usually referred to collectively with Methuselah as “Methuselah and its senior.”
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