Bristlecone Pine Facts
- The Bristlecone Pine ranks as the oldest known non-clonal living species on Earth.
- The tree grows slowly, due to the dry soil, cold conditions, high winds, and short growing seasons.
- It also never attains a very great height. Even the needles on the pines may remain there for as long as forty years.
- Genetically related and visually similar pines exist, and it is often rather difficult to distinguish one species from the other.
- Therefore, an exact tally of the Bristlecone’s numbers is not available.
- Three recognized varieties exist, with all three being extremely long-lived.
- The IUCN currently lists all three species of the Bristlecone Pine as Near Threatened.
Bristlecone Pine Physical Description
The trunks of the amazing Bristlecone Pine develop extremely gnarled shapes and patterns, making it a rather distinctive looking tree.
The tree also remains relatively small, never achieving a height greater than 60 ft (18.3 m). In fact, most individuals remain considerably shorter than that.
Its root system grows extremely branched and typically remains quite shallow. Typically, however, only a few larger roots provide the necessary stability.
The wood develops extremely dense and rather resinous. This also has the benefit of providing it with resistance to insect pests, aiding in its longevity.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Pinophyta
- Class: Pinopsida
- Order: Pinales
- Family: Pinaceae
- Genus: Pinus
Bristlecone Pine Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The species also generally occurs at or above altitudes of 10,000 ft.
All known specimens average 1000 years old, and the oldest one’s name is Methuselah, currently 4,789 years old. The tree also remains popular for the distinctive whorls and other unusual patterns it often develops.
Given its rather great density, dead trees can remain standing for centuries. Most surviving individual trees can be found in National Parks and are thus protected by law.
It grows at high altitudes, ranging between 5,600 and 11,200 ft (1,700 and 3,400 m) in elevation.
It also grows in soil that contains high amounts of sandstone, limestone, calcium, and magnesium.