Methuselah is a 4845-year-old Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) tree growing high in the White Mountains of Inyo County in eastern California. For many years it was the world's oldest known living non-clonal organism, until superseded by the discovery in 2013 of another bristlecone pine in the same area with an age of 5064 years (germination in 3051 BC). The tree is named after Methuselah, a biblical figure whose reported lifespan of 969 years surpassed all others in the Bible.
The tree grows somewhere between 2,900 and 3,000 m (9,500 and 9,800 ft) above sea level in the "Methuselah Grove" in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest within the Inyo National Forest. Methuselah's exact location is undisclosed to protect it from vandalism.
Status as oldest known tree
Methuselah was 4,789 years old when sampled (likely in 1957) by Edmund Schulman and Tom Harlan, with an estimated germination date of 2832 BC. Methuselah was for many years considered the world's oldest living tree, until the 2013 announcement of the discovery of an older bristlecone pine.
Other ancient trees
Another bristlecone specimen, WPN-114 and nicknamed "Prometheus", was more than 4,844 years old when cut down in 1964, with an estimated germination date of 2880 BC. A dendrochronology, based on these trees and other bristlecone pine samples, extends back to about 9000 BC, albeit with a single gap of about 500 years.
Other, longer-lived discoveries are clonal colony organisms, such as the 80,000-year-old Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) clonal colony named "Pando" in the Fish Lake National Forest in south-central Utah; 11,700-year- old Creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) clonal colony, named "King Clone", in the Mojave Desert near the Lucerne Valley in California; and the 9,500-year-old Norway spruce (Picea abies) clonal colony named "Old Tjikko" in Sweden.
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- "Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest". USFS. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
- "Ancient Bristlecone Pine Natural History". USFS. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
- Kinkead, Gwen (June 17, 2003). "At Age 4,600-Plus, Methuselah Pine Tree Begets New Offspring". New York Times.
- Methuselah Walk. U.S. Forest Service/Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association.
- Hall, Carl (1998-08-23). "Staying Alive". San Francisco Chronicle.
- Vasek, Frank C. (Feb 1980). "Creosote Bush: Long-Lived Clones in the Mojave Desert". American Journal of Botany 67 (2): 246–255.
- "Larrea tridentata - King Clone". High Country News.
- "World's Oldest Living clonal tree, 9550 years old, Discovered In Sweden". Science Daily.