Oct 1 2012
Let's agree on one thing: trees are the reason why you and I are still alive. It's the only reason why humanity is at a point where it is right now.
This article pays a tribute to several trees which have managed to survive and prosper over thousands of years.
The Oldest Tree in the World: Old Tjikko (9,550 Years Old)
The oldest individual clonal tree in the world is believed to be 9,550 years old (carbon-dated)! This Norway Spruce is located on the Fulufjället Mountain of Dalarna province in Sweden and was discovered by a professor of Physical Geography, Leif Kullman. The tree has been nicknamed "Old Tjikko" after his dog.
At first sight, this 5 meter (16 feet) tall tree might not strike you as the oldest known living organism, but don't let its size fool you! Over thousands of years this fella has successfully adapted to every climate change that has effected the area in which it resides.
It's believed that the reason why this tree has survived for so long is due to two processes: vegetative cloning and layering. During vegetative cloning, the tree trunk can die every few hundred years (~600 in this case), but the root system can live on for thousands of years. Layering occurs when one of the branches touches the ground and eventually "turns into a root".
Scientists have also located several other trees in the area, all dating to be 8,000+ years old – truly stunning!
The Oldest Non-Clonal Tree in the World: Methuselah (4,845 Years Old)
Methuselah is a type of pine tree growing high in the White Mountains of Inyo County in eastern California. It got its name after one of the longest-living characters in the Bible, who lived to be almost 1,000 years old.
Unlike the Tjikko that has survived by "cloning" itself, the Methuselah is believed to be the oldest living non-clonal tree/organism. It has been dendrochronologically tested (counting tree rings) and as of 2012 the tree is 4,845 years old!
The Tallest Tree in the World: Hyperion (115.6 meters/379' 4")
Hyperion was discovered on August 25, 2006 by naturalists Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor in a very remote region of Redwood National and State Parks (California, USA) and is believed to be approximately 700-800 years old. Explorers say that the tree could have been possibly taller than 380', but due to woodpecker damage at the very top it is currently measuring in at 379' 4".
Although several other trees have been recorded to be taller than this giant, most of them have fallen to mid/early 60's heavy deforestation of the Redwood region. In fact more than 90% of state's ancient forests have been logged during those times until 1978, when the area was purchased and extended into a National Park. People speculate that thousands of trees – some even larger and taller than the Hyperion – were cut down during the 24/7 logging shifts of 60's and 70's.
As with all of these rare trees, the exact location is held in secret and only 3 groups of people were ever able to find it and document it.
Unfortunately most of the photos of this tree look like they were taken with a cellphone camera (or a banana – we can't tell), so it looks like we might have to embark on a journey to find this giant and take a good photo of it for you guys. But to give you an idea of just how tall this tree really is, check out the previous "world's tallest tree" title holder – the Stratosphere Giant – which is 10 feet shorter than the Hyperion. Note the 3 climbers in blue.
The Biggest Tree in the World in Terms of Volume: General Sherman
Even though there are many other trees that are taller and wider at their base, they are no match to the infamous General Sherman tree. This tree outranks anything living on this planet by its sheer volume (excluding branches) and is considered to be the largest living organism on this planet.
The estimated age of this tree is around 2,300-2,700 years old. It has survived multiple fires, climate change and – thankfully – the modern-day man.
With an estimated weight of about 1,385 tons, 274.9 ft. (83.8 m) height and 36.5 ft. (11.1 m) diameter (at base), this is the fastest growing living thing on this planet!
In 1879 this tree was named after American Civil War general, William Tecumseh Sherman, by naturalist James Wolverton, who had served as a lieutenant in the 9th Indiana Cavalry under Sherman.
The Widest Tree Trunk in the World: Arbol del Tule Tree
El Árbol del Tule (Spanish for The Tree of Tule) is a cypress tree located in the town center of Santa María del Tule in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The town was actually named after this tree!
At approximately 1,400 years old (some sources say over 2,000), this tree is believed to have the widest tree trunk in the world, with a diameter of 11.62 m (38.1 ft). There was speculation as to whether the trunk was comprised of several trees, but after careful DNA examination it was determined that this was indeed a single tree.
Unfortunately in the early 90's it has been found that the tree is slowly dying due to heavy pollution (8,000+ cars pass on a nearby highway) and water shortage. Can this tree be saved? Considering that it has managed to stay alive for 1,400 years, the answers is yes. Will it be saved? This answer I'll leave up to you.
Let's be more conscious of these gifts!
To this day, a tree is one of the most underrated living organisms on this planet. In the eye of an uneducated (or ignorant) human being, a tree is just a roll of toilet paper – an every-day object – not a luxury that can be taken away at any time. People who protect and care for them are sarcastically dubbed "tree huggers" and are constantly being put down by the masses. These magnificent living organisms are being destroyed on daily basis. The reality is quite sad and alarming. But together, we can change this!
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Jan 3 2012
This is where James Cameron drew his inspiration from when he was working on Avatar. Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area is located in The Wulingyuan District of the City of Dayong, Hunan Province of China and is known for its stone pillars that reach over 1km in height and resemble the ones seen on Pandora (In the movie Avatar).
Make sure to click on photos for high resolution version to see more detail!