Methuselah: Still the world’s oldest tree?
This post was updated on May 12, 2023.
In eastern California, a Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) known as Methuselah has long been considered Earth’s oldest living thing. According
to tree-ring data, Methuselah is 4,853 years old — meaning it was well established by the time ancient Egyptians built the pyramids at Giza.
And while Methuselah’s precise location is kept under wraps to protect it from harm, there’s much we do know about this living relic.
Pinus longaeva grow at the uppermost edge of the timberline, among the windswept peaks of California, Nevada and Utah. The trees’ ability to thrive in this unforgiving landscape of freezing temperatures, arid soils and relentless winds
is the key to its remarkable longevity. They draw sustenance from the most brittle layers of limestone and carbonate rock — what passes for fertile soil at high elevations. And their gnarled, twisted branches, which are shaped by fast-moving
currents of mountain air, provide stability and reduce the risk of breakage during storms. Uniquely, the trees’ roots provide…