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Bristlecones        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Bristlecone pines are the longest-lived single organisms (this doesn't count clones, which may survive even longer).   In the White Mountains of eastern California, many trees exceed 4,000 years of age.   This seems odd, since the old trees are always severely weatherbeaten, often with just a thin strip of living bark and a few live branches.  They grow in a high, dry, and cold place (from about 3,000-3,500 meters above sea level), and this severe climate may promote long life: bristlecones growing in more favorable areas don't seem to live as long.
     These pictures were taken at the Patriarch Grove (about 3,400m elevation), and show fairly typical old but healthy trees growing near timberline.   In the view above, you can see some distant aspen 'trees' (in the Whites, they don't get very tall) in fall colors.

  • Canon 1D Mk. II, 17-40 mm lens at about 17-24 mm (2004)