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The Oldest Living Things On Earth

Bristlecone pines are believed to be the oldest living things in the world. Some have been here longer than the Pyramids in Egypt, having lived to be almost 5,000 years old. Bristlecone pines grow in isolated groves just below the tree line, between 5,600 and 11,200 ft elevation, and they do so on poor soils. The twisted wood of the bristlecone pines is a vivid illustration of the tortured life these tree endure in these extremely harsh conditions. Because of cold temperatures, dry soils, high winds, and short growing seasons, it takes the bristlecone pine 100 years to grow just one inch of rings in its trunk. Even the tree's needles can remain on the tree for forty years.

The bristlecone pine's longevity is due in part to the wood's extreme durability. The bristlecone pine wood is very dense and resinous, and thus resistant to invasion by insects, fungi, and other potential pests. While other species of trees that grow nearby suffer rot, bare bristlecone pines can endure, often standing on their roots for many centuries after they have died. Rather than rot, exposed wood, on living and dead trees, erodes more like stone due to wind, rain, and freezing, which creates unusual and visually interesting forms and shapes.
Wind Sculpted Dead Bristlecone Pine
Wind Sculpted Dead Bristlecone Pine
Wind Sculpted Dead Bristlecone Pine
Wind Sculpted Dead Bristlecone Pine
The Bristlecone Pine Cone
The Bristlecone Pine Cone
Wind Sculpted Dead Bristlecone Pine
Wind Sculpted Dead Bristlecone Pine
Damaged By Lightning
Damaged By Lightning
Wind Sculpted Dead Bristlecone Pine
Wind Sculpted Dead Bristlecone Pine