The Trembling Giant – 80,000 year old aspen

The story is the same everywhere you look: we are losing our trees, be them ancient, tropical, deciduous, coniferous and home to so much of life on our planet. Is there a tree that has survived our impetuous love of the chainsaw?

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However there are some trees that are a thousands of years old such as the bristlecone pine (Pinus longeava) at the grand age of 4,845 years old in the White Moutains of California or the  1,075 year old Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii) found in Greece, making it Europe’s oldest tree. Nothing, however, quite compares to Pando, also named the Trembling Giant, which holds the title of the oldest living clonal colony of trees, made up of 40,000 quaking aspen (Populus termuloides). The Pando is found in Fishlake National Forest in south-central Utah and is believed to be approximately 80,000 years old. However it has been posited that it could be up to a million years old. Each aspen tree found in the colony is genetically identical, having sprouted off a shared root system.

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In recent years Pando has come under threat the large deer population grazing the forest. The continual grazing has resulted in stunted growth of sprouting shoots. Many of the trees are mature and without new sproutings, Pando could be in trouble. Measures, such as hunting and building fences, have been taken to control the deer population there is still large scale damage to Pando (Loe.org).

Although the fate of Pando is uncertain at this point, there is no denying that it is a remarkable feat of nature.

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