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In awe of ancient trees

comments (2) March 19th, 2010 in blogs

MKenney Matthew Kenney, special projects editor
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Methusela, the oldest living individual tree.
Photo courtesy of Clinton Steeds. Creative Commons 2.0 - CLICK TO ENLARGE

Methusela, the oldest living individual tree.

Photo courtesy of Clinton Steeds. Creative Commons 2.0

One of my favorite things is going to the lumber yard and digging through the stacks. I love wood and get a great thrill from discovering jaw-droppingly beautiful lumber hidden among piles of more mundane boards. But I also recognize the inherent beauty of a living tree. In fact, I appreciate the living tree much more than the fallen timber, no matter how beautiful the curl or grain. So I was pleased the other morning while reading Wired magazine's website over breakfast. In particular, they had posted a photo gallery of the 12 oldest trees on earth. There is something about a tree that's been alive for thousands of years that puts my life and my significance as a human being into the proper perspective. I know that not everyone (if anyone at all) is interested in my philosophical musings about what it means to be human in a world that sees us (and treats us) as just another animal, so I'll spare you any details. But I will tell you that seeing those majestic elders makes me appreciate the lumber I do work all the more. Trees are an amazing resource. I know we wouldn't be where we are today without them.

At any rate, take a look at the gallery. And if you curiosity is piqued, take a look at this website about Methusela, which thought to be the oldest living individual on earth. I have always been taken by the story of Prometheus, another bristlecone pine, even older than Methusela, that was cut down back in 1964. The story breaks my heart every time I read it (I first read about Prometheus many years ago in a book about the largest trees in the US that my parents have).

posted in: blogs, old trees, ancient wood, methusula, bristle cone pine

Comments (2)

MKenney MKenney writes: saschefer,

That's right. The Wired piece actually features an Aspen grove that is about 80,000 years old.
Posted: 3:26 pm on March 19th

saschafer saschafer writes:
Depending on how you look at it, aspens may be the longest-lived trees. While a single aspen bole lives only a couple of hundred years, all of the boles in a grove comprise a single organism, arising from a single germination event, and remaining connected underground through their roots.

Some quaking aspen groves in the Western US are estimated to be tens of thousands of years old.

Posted: 1:57 pm on March 19th

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