Bristlecone Pine Facts
- Without doubt, most notably, the Bristlecone Pine ranks as the oldest known non-clonal living species on Earth. However, the truly descriptive common term actually applies to a total of three separate related plant species. Also, all three of these trees grows slowly, due to the dry soil, cold conditions, high winds, and short growing seasons.
- But, yet another characteristic distinguishes these absolutely amazing trees from any similar species. That holds true due to the fact that they also never attains a very great height. Additionally, even the needles on this variety of pine appear to be extremely long-lasting. That’s because many of them often remain on the branches for as long as forty years.
- Furthermore, genetically related and visually similar pines also happen to exist. This fact, therefore, often renders it quite difficult to distinguish one species from the other. Due to this, an exact tally of the numbers of the Bristlecone Pine remains impossible to determine with complete accuracy. The IUCN currently lists all three species of the Bristlecone Pine as Near Threatened.
Bristlecone Pine Physical Description
First of all, the amazing Bristlecone Pine truly remains one of the most unusual trees on the planet. In fact, it develops a most distinctive shape. That holds true because the trunks of the amazing type of pine develop extremely gnarled shapes and patterns. This results in giving the plant an unmistakable shape.
The breathtaking tree also packs all of these mesmerizing qualities into a surprising package. That’s because the species remains relatively small. In point of fact, no known individuals ever achieve a height measuring greater than 60 ft (18.3 m). Further, most individuals remain considerably shorter than that.
In addition, even its root system develops in a highly unusual nature. This occurs because this grows extremely branched. Further, this particular component of the remarkable tree also typically remains quite shallow in nature. Typically, however, only a few of the larger roots provide the necessary stability.
Finally, even the wood of the stunning Bristlecone Pine stands out from the crowd. In point of fact, this feature of the three species develops as extremely dense and quite resinous in nature. This characteristic 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
Of great interest to those who appreciate the resourcefulness and tenacity of Nature remains the habitat of the astonishing Bristlecone Pine. That’s due to one particularly amazing fact common to all specimens. That’s that the trees live only on a few remote, dry mountaintops located in six states in the United States, in North America.
This awesome plant typically grows at high altitudes ranging between 5,600 and 11,200 ft (1,700 and 3,400 m) in elevation. However, the vast majority of individuals of each of the three species generally occur at or above altitudes of 10,000 ft. It also grows in soil that contains high amounts of sandstone, limestone, calcium, and magnesium.
In addition, yet another astonishing fact remains about toe Bristlecone Pine. That’s the fact that all known specimens average 1000 years old. In point of fact, the oldest one’s name bears the name of Methuselah, currently 4,789 years old. The tree also remains popular for the distinctive whorls and other unusual patterns it often develops.
Further, one more astounding fact remains to make these trees true marvels of Nature. That’s due to the fact that, given their incredibly great density, dead trees can remain standing for centuries. Finally, most surviving individual trees now reside within the confines of National Parks and thus enjoy a certain amount of protection.