14 responses to “Pinus longaeva”

  1. Krissy

    Thanks for the seed collecting expedition info. I would love to hear and see more about the Steens part of your trip. I was there in ’98 and fell in love with the place and the plants there. I am always interested in hearing about it and looking at images. I would love to get back there someday. How is the region doing these days? An update would be much appreciated!

  2. Beverley

    Pinus longaeva – Z4 – RHS Index of Garden Plants, Griffiths
    Pinus longaeva – Z4-8 – A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, Brickell, Cole, Zuk

  3. Josh Williams

    I’ve heard that P. longaeva only lives a comparatively short time (150-200 yr.) when cultivated in more friendly conditions…..Bristlecones need the the arid mountain slopes of their home range, in order to reach record breaking age…….Do you know if there is any truth to this, Daniel?

  4. Michael F

    No-one knows for sure, since Pinus longaeva has only been in cultivation for about 40 years. But this does apply to the closely related Pinus aristata, so it likely will to P. longaeva too.
    The cause is root decay fungi, which don’t survive well at the high, cold, dry conditions the pines grow in naturally; as a consequence, the pines have never needed to evolve much in the way of defence against fungi and succumb fairly easily in warmer, moister conditions.

  5. Peggy

    ” . . . it was cut down to determine its age.”
    Idiocy strikes again . . . Was a concrete plaque then installed to memorialize it?

  6. Brent Hine

    I was Daniel’s collecting partner during this trip.
    I think that Steens Mt., Oregon was, among many on our way, the “highest” of the highlights for me. We’d planned to camp there but instead booked into historic Frenchglen (pop. 11) Hotel. I’m glad we did, as the mosquitos were their usual pesty selves. This is because of the area’s proximity to Malheur Wildlife Refuge, a renowned bird watching area. (mosquitos = bird food!)
    It was lovely to see families of deer in the early mornings. Up on the mountain, I was impressed by the quality of the road right to the top, along the gently rising elevation, through zones of sagebrush, juniper, aspen etc. The highest point of the road is at about 9700ft/2900m, not far below the accesssible peak. At that point, the alpine tundra environment is in very good condition, and invites happy rambling – right to cliff edges – among innumerable Lupins, Phacelia, Eriogonum, Penstemon and many other flowering plants (early July).
    Due to its relative remoteness in the southeast corner of the state, Steens Mt. still isn’t visited by very many people. We both quickly realized that had the mountain been a lot closer to a large city, it’d be trampled to bits by now. Another reason is that it usually takes until late June until snow melts, allowing road travel to the summit.
    It seemed to Daniel and me to be very dry this season, although we had no previous experience to compare with. We managed to secure some very interesting collections in spite of the conditions. The south side of the loop road (South Steens loop) was in rather poor condition on the mountain itself. We made it down very slowly with our 2 wheel drive SUV but a 4WD would have no problem at all. The route down that way is also precipitous – sheer cliffs inviting dangerous view stares on one side of the narrow road and unstable rock walls on the other. All in all, the various glacial gorges and vistas of distant mountains and the Alvord desert made it an unforgettable landscape experience – I can well understand the desire to return. I think Daniel may already have it fixed on his calendar!

  7. Brent Hine

    As to seeing Pinus longaeva at Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park, this was also thrilling for me. Again, we drove up over 9900ft/3000m before beginning an hour’s hike to the bristlecone grove. It is a moderate one but still had us gasping a bit. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of these plants is their propensity to revel in their harsh enivronment. A very short and dry growing season and growth in bare broken rock demands a struggle over time, of epic proportions, yet seems somehow to assist longevity itself. Even post-life, these remarkable sentinels remain for ages.
    The other contender to the master of longevity is (perhaps) Joumon Sugi, an amazing cedar tree, oldest of many, which inhabit rainforest in Yakushima, Japan. It is said to be older than 7000 years, but I don’t know if it has been cored for dating, as have many of the bristlecone pines.

  8. Eric in SF

    Brent – the northern California Sierras had the driest winter in recent memory, so if that area is under the same climatic influence, that would explain your observation.

  9. Michael F

    For the oldest trees, see here:
    http://www.conifers.org/topics/oldest.htm
    Fitzroya cupressoides is the second oldest species after Pinus longaeva.
    Re Jomon Sugi, also from the Gymnosperm Database:
    “Apparently, no one has any idea how old these trees [Cryptomeria japonica] are, but certain trees are popularly thought to be over 1,000 years old and the “Jomon” is a time about 3,000 years ago. Since they inhabit a climate rather similar to, and can attain sizes approaching that of their near relative Sequoia sempervirens, I am inclined to suspect they reach comparable ages, meaning 2,000 years or somewhat older. Some websites repeat an old and fanciful claim that the Jomon-sugi is 7200 years old, but there is no basis for this assertion; it is simply folklore.” – http://www.conifers.org/cu/cr/index.htm

  10. Brent Hine

    Thanks for that Gymnosperm Database info. I suppose that all of the trees on the roster are those whose ages have been confirmed through technical means. As for Joumon sugi, estimating a tree’s age based on a similar genera and climate is one thing but coring is another – not foolproof, but a solid step toward conclusivity. Personally, I wouldn’t put too much stock in the name Joumon being used here either. It was approx. 3000 years ago, but I understand that it was likely applied long ago simply by an association rather than a particularly useful dating method. Could be, but doubtful. I had the good fortune to stand in awe of Joumon sugi and seeing it up close truly makes one wonder about just how old it must be ..

  11. knox

    While observing the comments about the longevity of these pines at higher elevations, I am compelled to add that the photograph is really striking in itself.

  12. Ron B

    Was that supposed to be “birds = mosquito food”?

  13. Jim R.

    I visited Ely, NV in 1976 on a university field trip. During our stay we were told about the tree being cut down. I did not see them, but we were told that slabs of the tree were being used as table tops in an Ely bar. Yes, idiocy reigns.

  14. Alexander Jablanczy

    I agree. The morons who cut down millenarian trees just to age them should have their cranium trapanned just to see if they have any neurons left.
    Recently they found some ?eastern white pines clinging to weather exposed cliffs on the shores of Georgian Bay and other Great Lakes as well.
    Wisely the kayakers or hikers who found them kept quiet about the exact location.

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