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Exciting Find: 5063 Year Old *Living* Bristlecone Pine in White Mountains (My Favorite Haunt)

Just today I learned that a bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) has been discovered still LIVING that has now been dated at 5063 years old! According to Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research:

A new record holder was recently recognized, a Pinus longaeva growing in the White Mountains of eastern California.

The date on this tree was reported to me by Tom Harlan. The tree was cored by Edmund Schulman in the late 1950s but he never had a chance to date it before he died. Tom worked up the core only recently, and knows which tree it is. The tree is still alive, and the age given below, 5062, is the tree's age as of the growing season of 2012.

Think about that: this tree was over 3 millenia old when Christ was born.

I’m sure I’ve enjoyed many a 4000+ year bristlecone in my White Mountains wanderlust, but the oldest specimens are never labeled or located for the public: there are individuals out there who would surely seek to kill the tree or cut it down, not to mention damage it by visiting (if the location were known).

For similar reasons, I never give GPS coordinates or directions to my favorite haunts. GPS tagging is a practice I adamantly oppose for all photographers showing special places. Visitors ultimately damage or destroy fragile things, even if well intentioned and careful—I’ve seen it in some of my favorite places over just 30 years or so. Keep the spirit of discovery alive, and special places special.

See the recent photos with the Ricoh GR up in the White Mountains.

Healthy Ancient Bristlecone Pine

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