For details on the tallest, thickest, and most massive trees on earth, go to my Champion Trees page. Here are some more fascinating details about extraordinary trees, excerpted from my upcoming book:
More than 25 coniferous species worldwide reach ages of over 1,000 years. The giant sequoia and coastal redwoods, and several others can live three to four thousand years. The bristlecone pine, native to California’s White Mountains, has been aged at over 4,900 years. And, if we bend the rules just a touch, and count a continuing underground root as ongoing life, even though the above-ground portion may die back numerous times, then some Norway spruce in the high mountains of Dalarna county in western Sweden have survived more than 8,000 years in their struggle against the elements! Bending them just a bit further, and visiting the Australian island of Tasmania, we find two species that can do even better. These two species send out extensive root systems from the parent tree. From these roots, new sprouts arise and grow, extending the root mass even farther, and generating additional new sprouts. The Huon pine has continued this process for some 10, 500 years. King’s lomatia, however, holds the apparent record, having been carbon-dated at 43, 600 years since the clone originated!
The banyan is a member of the fig family with a highly unusual growing habit. It sends down aerial roots directly from its branches. Upon reaching the ground, these too take root and grow into new stems or trunks. Known as prop roots, they soon provide sturdy support and additional nutrition for the ever-spreading limbs. The largest is found in Kolkata (old Calcutta), India. The fully connected mix of over 2800 support stems spreads over nearly six acres.
What an incredibly specialized and complex design and process is the seed that generates new life from the old! While today scientists have discovered many of the details, the actual carrying of potential “life” remains a fine mystery. Stored in a tiny seed is all of the basic substance and an entire blueprint which will provide for its growth into a plant that may become hundreds of feet tall, with roots, stem, foliage, fruit, and dozens of other specialized parts and functions. This amazing capability may remain dormant in a seed, and yet completely viable, for years. An extreme case involved seeds of the date palm which had been stored in Israel’s Masada, the cliff-top fortress where 960 protesting Jews fell to a Roman siege in 73 AD. Nearly 2,000 years later, horticulturists succeeded in stimulating one of them to sprout!
Watch here for more tree facts!
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