A tree grows in North Carolina and has been growing there for a long time.
According to a new study published today (May 9) in the journal Environmental Research Communications, scientists studying tree rings in the Black River Marsh of North Carolina discovered a bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) is at least 2,624 years old, which makes it one of the oldest non-cloned trees and bad reproductives in the world. (Clonal trees, which are vast colonies of genetically identical plants that grow from a single ancestor, can live for tens of thousands of years.)
How old is 2,624 years, really? To borrow an badogy from the observer from Charlotte, that age makes this tree older than Christianity, the Roman Empire and the English language.
Researchers discovered the ancient cypress tree while studying tree rings in an effort to reconstruct the climatic history of the eastern United States. (In addition to marking the age of a tree, the width and color of the tree rings indicate how wet or dry the year was). Due to previous fieldwork, the team knew that a particular group of bald cypresses in the Three Sisters Swamp of the Rio Negro was one of the oldest groups of trees in the country. That previous research identified several trees between 1,000 and 1,650 years of age. [Bristlecone Pines: Photos Reveal Some of Earth’s Oldest Organisms]
The new study reveals that the bald cypresses have an even greater longevity than the researchers thought. In addition to the 2.624-year-old individual reported earlier, the researchers found a cypress of 2,088 years in the same swamp, and there is probably more to where it came from.
"Because we have collected and dated only 110 live bald cypresses on this site, a small fraction of the tens of thousands of trees that are still present in these wetlands, there could be several additional individual bald cypress trees over 2,000 years old throughout. of the approximately 100 km (62 miles) of the Negro River, "the researchers wrote in the study.
According to the new study, it is confirmed that bald cypresses are the oldest species of wetland trees known on Earth. This discovery also turns the bald cypress into the fifth oldest non-clonal tree species on Earth; single individual juniper saw (Juniperus occidentalis) trees, giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum), larches (Fitzroya Cupressoides) and the gun pines of the Great Basin (Pinus longaeva) have been found to be older. The oldest bristlecone pine in the world, located in the White Mountains of California, is 5,066 years old, about twice the age of the newly discovered cypress. It is believed that the oldest clonal tree is found in the trembling aspen tree forest known as Pando, in Utah.
Although the old trees described in this study live on protected lands that are privately owned by the North Carolina chapter of The Nature Conservancy, their existence is still threatened by continuous logging and biombad cultivation operations (for example, felling trees for padding) in other parts of the river, as well as industrial pollution and climate change.
"The discovery of the oldest living trees known in eastern North America, which are, in fact, some of the oldest living trees on the planet, provides a powerful incentive for private, state and federal conservation of this extraordinary waterway, "the authors concluded.
Originally published in Living science.