Future Of World’s Oldest Tree Specie In Peril.
The bristlecone pines are one of the world’s oldest living organisms; the oldest known living tree is called ‘Methuselah’ and has been dated at a mighty 4,789 years of age. These ancient trees have a fittingly gnarled and stunted appearance, especially those found at high altitudes, and have reddish-brown bark with deep fissures. The green pine needles give the twisted branches a bottle-brush appearance. The name bristlecone pine refers to the dark purple female cones that bear incurved prickles on their surface. They have an extremely slow rate of growth. The summer months are very short-lived; new cones and twigs must be formed at this time and reserves stored for the long over-wintering phase. If trees are damaged by fire or drought, their living tissues will die back retaining only what can be sustained by the tree, thus much of the tree appears dead but it is still able to produce cones with viable seeds in the summer months. Tree growth rings reveal the age of an individual tree but can also provide insights into past climates. Because bristlecone pines are such old organisms, and because their timber persists for an incredibly long period after death, the study of the wood of these ancient trees has revealed environmental conditions stretching back to almost 9,000 years ago
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