100 Wonders: The Bristlecone Pines
The world’s oldest living trees have been growing in Nevada for more than 5,000 years.
In Nevada’s Great Basin National Park, on Wheeler Peak, sit some of the world’s oldest living organisms. These Bristlecone Pines have been quietly growing on a mountain ridge in eastern Nevada for more than 5,000 years.
The Bristlecone Pine is a gnarled beauty found in mountainous solitude. The world’s oldest living (non-clonal) organisms, these trees were here before the invention of the alphabet, before the creation of musical notation, and before the invention of the sword. When the Roman Empire reached its height, these trees were already 3,000 years old. Simply being in the presence of these ancient trees changes your perception of time.
As the world warms, the trees are climbing higher up the mountains, seeking cooler climates. One day soon the Bristlecone pines may have climbed as far as they can go, and after 5,000 years of quiet living the Bristlecone Pine will be gone.
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