What Will the Fate Be for Bristlecones, the Oldest Trees on Earth?

Written by Margaret Badore

Bristlecone pines are the the world’s oldest trees, living and reproducing for thousands of years. They live high up in the arid mountains of the Western United States.

In an essay for Aeon, Ross Andersen shares his struggles to understand the trees’ age:

It is hard to resist cliché when conveying the antiquity of the bristlecone pine. The oldest of the living bristlecones were just saplings when the pyramids were raised. The most ancient, called Methuselah, is estimated to be more than 4,800 years old; with luck, it will soon enter its sixth millennium as a living, reproducing organism. Because we conceive of time in terms of experience, a life spanning millennia can seem alien or even eternal to the human mind. It is hard to grasp what it would be like to see hundreds of generations flow out from under you in the stream of time, hard to imagine how rich and varied the mind might become if seasoned by five thousand years of experience and culture.

The trees have evolved to live where few organisms can survive, in thin air and with little moisture. But this strategy may no longer protect them as climate change warms their mountains, allowing other trees to reach higher. The fate of the bristlecone pine is the subject of this beautiful short film, produced by KPCC’s AudioVision.


This post was originally published in TreeHugger

Photo Credit: Zest-Pk


Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Rhonda Bird
Rhonda B4 years ago

I love trees:0

Spring Green
.4 years ago

Worth saving.

Elizabeth F.
Elizabeth F4 years ago

Everything has to be done to save them indeed!!

Rekha S4 years ago

Amazing trees these are its unbelievable that they lived for so long. Everything must be done to preserve them.

Danuta Watola
Danuta W4 years ago

thanks for information.

Marie W.
Marie W4 years ago

More tree hugging.

Nikolas Karman
Nikolas K4 years ago

Live and let live as our lungs depend on the trees for clean oxygen. So next time you feel it macho to cut down a tree think of how you will servive when your starved of oxygen.

Beth Wilkerson
Beth Wilkerson4 years ago

Hard for them to move to a different location!

Emily S.
Emily S4 years ago

Love the trees!!