Tree Tuesday

Last week we looked at the oldest living clonal tree Old Tjikko in Sweden. This week we’re featuring the world’s oldest living individual tree, a 4,850 year old Bristlecone pine in California named Methuselah.

Named, obviously, after the Biblical figure that lived for 969 years, the Methuselah Tree grows in the Methuselah Grove, which is in Inyo National Forest’s “Forest of Ancients,” where it is surrounded by other ancient trees. The exact location of the tree, though, is kept secret to protect it against vandalism.

Methuselah has an estimated germination date of 2832 BCE, making it older than the pyramids of Egypt. The tree doesn’t exactly live under ideal conditions either. Bristlecone Pines live at high elevation with minimal soil and harsh winds, but they are perfectly suited for survival in this unwelcoming environment. Photos of the Methuselah Pine are not published and its location is kept a closely guarded secret due to concerns about possible damage by humans. The photo above is of a 3,500 year old specimen, just a youngster by comparison. There was an even older Bristlecone Pine named Prometheus that was accidentally destroyed by a grad student in 1964 while taking a core sample. That is a very big OOPS!

The story and more photos can be found at Atlas Obscura.



  1. Raucous Indignation says

    I saw the post about Old Tjikko, but I don’t think that old and marvelous shrub, as wonderful as it is, is the oldest clonal tree. There is a clonal colony of an individual male quaking aspen referred to as Pando (Latin for “I spread out”) or the Trembling Giant in Utah. It’s (his?) root system is believed to be at least 80,000 years old if not much, much older.

  2. voyager says

    That’s right and next week’s Tree Tuesday post is about Pando. Old Tjikko is the oldest living individual clonal tree, but Pando, The Trembling Giant, is the oldest living clonal root system. The average age of the living trees is about 130 years.

  3. voyager says

    There may be a living bristlecone pine in the same grove as Methuselah that’s even older, but its core sample has been lost and the information can’t be confirmed.

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