Methuselah (tree)

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Forest of gnarled pine trees with sandy soil between them
The Methuselah Grove
SpeciesGreat Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva)
LocationAncient Bristlecone Pine Forest, in the White Mountains, Inyo County, California
Coordinates37°22′46″N 118°09′42″W / 37.3794°N 118.1618°W / 37.3794; -118.1618Coordinates: 37°22′46″N 118°09′42″W / 37.3794°N 118.1618°W / 37.3794; -118.1618
Date seeded2833 BC
CustodianUnited States Forest Service

Methuselah is a 4,850-year-old[1] Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) tree growing high in the White Mountains of Inyo County in eastern California.[2][3] It is recognized as the tree with the greatest confirmed age in the world.[4]


Methuselah is located 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. Its exact location has not been publicly disclosed.[5][6]

Status as oldest known tree[edit]

Methuselah was 4,789 years old when sampled (likely in 1957) by Edmund Schulman and Tom Harlan,[1] with an estimated germination date of 2833 BC. A possibly older bristlecone pine was discovered and later announced in 2013, but that announcement was retracted in 2017 when the dating core could not be found.[4]

Other ancient trees[edit]


Another bristlecone specimen, WPN-114, 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.[7][3]

Clonal organisms[edit]

Other, longer-lived discoveries are clonal colony organisms, such as the 80,000-year-old quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) colony named "Pando" in the Fish Lake National Forest in south-central Utah; the 11,700-year- old creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) colony, named "King Clone", in the Mojave Desert near the Lucerne Valley in California; and the 9,500-year-old Norway spruce (Picea abies) colony named "Old Tjikko" in Sweden.[8][9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Pinus longaeva". Gymnosperm Database. March 15, 2007. Retrieved 2015-01-04.
  2. ^ "Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest". USFS. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Ancient Bristlecone Pine Natural History". USFS. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research OldList". Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  5. ^ Kinkead, Gwen (June 17, 2003). "At Age 4,600-Plus, Methuselah Pine Tree Begets New Offspring". New York Times.
  6. ^ Methuselah Walk. U.S. Forest Service/Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association.
  7. ^ Hall, Carl (1998-08-23). "Staying Alive". San Francisco Chronicle.
  8. ^ Vasek, Frank C. (Feb 1980). "Creosote Bush: Long-Lived Clones in the Mojave Desert". American Journal of Botany. 67 (2): 246–255. doi:10.2307/2442649. JSTOR 2442649.
  9. ^ "Larrea tridentata - King Clone". High Country News.
  10. ^ "World's Oldest Living clonal tree, 9550 years old, Discovered In Sweden". Science Daily.

External links[edit]

  • — Inyo National Forest official Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest site
  • — Inyo National Forest: The Natural History of the Bristlecone Pines