Bent but unbroken, an ancient bristlecone pine endures in California’s White Mountains. The slow-growing bristlecones, Earth’s oldest known living things, can survive for 4,000 years or more and may stand long after their deaths.
Bristlecone pines often grow in a twisted fashion at high altitudes. These trees also have sectored architecture, which means that sections of the tree are supported by big roots. These roots feed only the sections of tree directly above them. As one root dies off due to exposure through soil erosion, only the sector of tree above that root dies. It is common at high elevations to see bristlecone pines with only one or two living sectors, defined by a strip of bark.
The oldest known living tree was a 4,847 year old bristlecone pine found in the White Mountains of California. It wasn’t until 2012 when another bristlecone from the same area proved to be 5,065 years old. There is a good chance there are older bristlecone pines that have not yet been dated
Photograph Date: 2010
Medium: Chromogenic Print