Tree Tuesday

 

This week we continue looking at the oldest and biggest tress in the world, but instead of looking up we’re going underground to have a look at a root system. A clonal root system, to be exact. You’ve seen Old Tjikko, the oldest living clonal tree in the world, but old Mr. T is not the oldest living clonal system in the world. That honour belongs to Pando The Trembling Giant, a colony of Quaking Aspen trees in Fishlake National Park in Utah.

Pando is an ancient clonal root system and although the individual trees live for about 130 years the root organism itself is estimated to be 80,000 years old. Pando was alive when early humans were first migrating out of Africa and it would be about 65,000 years before human eyes even reached the Americas to see Pando.

Pando is more than a group of trees that have withstood the test of time. Pando is actually just one tree; all the aspens of Fishlake National Forest are part of the same organism…  Genetic testing has helped confirm that each tree in the forest is the same organism reproduced over and over again with only slight genetic variations.

Instead of spreading seeds, the clonal grove extends its roots in a process called “suckering.” New “trees” shoot up alongside the old ones, looking like new seedlings — but they actually belong to Pando’s extensive root system, which is why the different trees present nearly identical appearances. They’re essentially clones of the existing foliage.

Scientists believe that every tree in the Pando colony shares the same root system. The result is one of the largest and oldest living organisms on earth and a remarkably resilient forest. Pando’s deep, connected roots have allowed it to survive millennia of fires, droughts, climate shifts, and diseases.

Pando is big, too. It covers 107 acres and weighs in at an estimated 6,615 tons which makes it the worlds heaviest living organism. By comparison, a blue Whale is a lightweight at only about 200 tons. Pando is currently threatened by over-grazing of deer and elk, but a conservation project has been implemented and fences seem to be successfully working.

So there you have it. I think we can safely say that Pando is definitely the oldest and the biggest tree in the world.

Check out the full article and a few more photos at All That’s Interesting.

 

 

 

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.

 

Tree Tuesday

This lonely Norway Spruce lives on top of Falufajallet Mountain in Sweden and is estimated to be about 9, 550 years old making it the worlds oldest tree. According to Atlas Obscura,

Located in Fulufjallet National Park, Old Tjikko began growing in this harsh tundra shortly after the glaciers receded from Scandinavia at the close of the last ice age. To put that into perspective, this lowly shrub was growing as humans learned to plow fields, domesticate the cat, and—2,000 years after it first took root—our ancestors begin learning to smelt copper.

Old Tjikko is part of a clonal organism and its age was determined by carbon dating of its roots. There’s a small path that leads to the tree and park rangers give free guided tours. It’s preferred that visitors not go unaccompanied. I’d say that people shouldn’t be allowed to visit at all except I’d like to go myself.

I may need to start a new bucket list just for the trees that I’d like to visit.

Tree Tuesday

Trees in the News: According to Vox, the trees at Joshua Tree National Park in California are now one step closer to extinction thanks to the current US government shutdown.

According to National Parks Traveler, visitors are creating illegal roads and driving into some of the park’s most fragile areas. They are also chopping down trees, setting illegal fires, and graffitiing rocks. With Joshua Tree being roughly the size of Delaware, the eight on-duty law enforcement rangers had no way to stop all the prohibited activity.

Joshua trees are already facing possible extinction, with scientists claiming that the Joshua Tree habitat will be lost to climate change by 2100. Smith told National Geographic in October, “We’re just in crisis mode right now.” Twenty days into the government shutdown, vandals are accelerating the trees’ demise.

Why? Why must people be so short-sighted and destructive? The article at National Parks Traveler notes that Joshua trees were cut down so that 4 wheelers could go around entrance gates. Once inside the trespassers continued their destruction, tearing up virgin desert, running over plants, camping in off-limits areas, leaving behind heaps of trash and generally behaving like 3 year olds high on sugar and let loose in a toy store with no supervision. It’s one more thing we can add to the list of things that Trump is destroying.

Tree Tuesdsay

From Lofty,

A series of the small patch of forest that was selectively burned, one year on. 

©Lofty, all rights reserved

©Lofty, all rights reserved

©Lofty, all rights reserved

What a difference a year can make. The area doesn’t look fire ravaged at all. Maybe it’s because of the regrowth on the tall trees,. That’s not something I’ve seen before and it’s fascinating. Thanks for sharing. Lofty.

Tree Tuesday

Nightjar has sent us some fabulous photos of the fully fruited-Persimmon trees near where she lives.

These are some photos from local persimmon trees. As you can see, as of December 23 all leaves have fallen but the fruits remain on the trees. Most haven’t fully ripened yet and are showing no signs of falling. This is unusual for this time of the year, persimmon season should be over by now. I have no explanation for it, but the result is many alternative “Christmas trees” around the village, naturally decorated with unconventional orange balls. I think they look amazing right now and I thought you would enjoy them too.

Yes, Nightjar, I am enjoying them and so will everyone else. Thanks.

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

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Tree Tuesday

Today, we have something even better than a Christmas tree. Avalus has sent us an absolutely enchanting forest photo for this Christmas Day Tree Tuesday. Thanks so much, Avalus.

Zauberwald means magic forest.

Hiking an a misty morning last fall on a path in the Odenwald suddenly the sun appeared between the trees. I think the slight misfocus adds to the “magic forest” feel I had that moment.

Zauberwald, ©Avalus, all rights reserved

Tree Tuesday

Our tree this week is a bit of a show-off, being laden with both flowers and fruit in December. The photos are from Nightjar and they were taken on December 2 of this year. I double checked that date because I could hardly believe it.

This is a strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo, no relationship to strawberries except for whatever was on the mind of the person who came up with the english common name), bearing flowers and fruits at the same time as is to be expected from a tree that blooms once a year and whose fruits take around 12 months to mature. Native to the Mediterranean region, the flowers feed the bees (the resulting honey has a unique taste) and the fruits feed the birds. I like to eat the fruits fresh, although only a handful at a time because they can become cloying fast. They also bruise very easily, so there is no point in picking more than what one can eat in that moment… unless the goal is to make the traditional fruit brandy or jam, but I like neither of those things. Anyway, I think the tree is very pretty and it seems to be relatively unknown outside of its native range, so I thought I would share it!

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

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Tree Tuesday

Sent in by Nightjar, our trees this week tell a cautionary tale about the effects of climate change.

Mushroom Hunting Part 1...We went mushroom hunting last weekend and I decided to share some photos. I split them in two parts. The first doesn’t show mushrooms but rather our journey to find them. I knew that the wildfires last year had affected this area, but wasn’t sure if our favourite spot had burned or not. It did. I say green isn’t always hope because that green in the third photo is mostly acacias (Acacia longifolia) taking over the place. The future of these historical pine forests doesn’t look bright. We turned around and drove a bit south until we found a patch of forest that escaped the fires and didn’t look as dry and sterile. That’s when the mosquitoes attacked me, but there was also a lovely damselfly to make up for it.

Mushroom Hunting Part 2 will be posted tomorrow and it’s chock full of interesting photos of fungi found in the forest. Be sure to check it out. Thanks, Nightjar.

1. The road that no longer leads to mushrooms, ©Nightjar, all rights reserved

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Tree Tuesday

 

This week we have an incredible tree from Down Under that’s full of big, bright, colourful flowers, courtesy of DavidinOz.

The first 3 are of a huge Bottle Brush tree, an Australian native that has been exported to other climes.Look closely in 2 & 3 and you will see bees had at work.

4 & 5 are of a different tree, but all the better to see why they are named …. Bottle Brush.

Cheers, David

©David Brindley, all rights reserved

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Tree Tuesday

This week we have a story tree from Nightjar and it’s a wonderful story of hope.

I was driving through an area that was badly affected by wildfires last year and stopped the car to quickly take this shot, because it shows the concept of “fire-adapted species” so well. Everything still looks horribly devastated. In the foreground there is a completely destroyed orchard, in the background a completely destroyed pine plantation. Trees are still standing, but they are dead. Except… there is a survivor! The cork oak tree is resprouting all over and will regenerate soon! That’s what cork is for, to insulate the trunk from high temperatures protecting its core during a fire. It’s one thing to know this in theory, but to see the advantage of this strategy so clearly was quite enlightening.

Cork tree, ©Nightjar, all rights reserved

Thanks so much for sharing, Nightjar. I think it’s amazing that any living thing can survive a forest fire. Nature is so endlessly fascinating.

Tree Tuesday

These stunning photos are from DavidinOz and they were taken along the Murray River in Swan Hill, Victoria. David says he was fortunate to be there at the “golden hour” and I have to agree. The light is golden and tinged with just a smidge of rose. The exposed tree roots alone make for dramatic photos, but combined with that light they become something special. Thanks for sharing, David.

©David Brindly, all rights reserved

©David Brindly, all rights reserved

©David Brindly, all rights reserved