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Meet Methuselah – The 4,855-Year-Old Tree That’s Outlived Civilizations!

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Written By Lakeisha Ethans

Heritage Gardener with Grafting Expertise

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Home » Ancient & Remarkable Trees » Meet Methuselah – The 4,855-Year-Old Tree That’s Outlived Civilizations!

Meet Methuselah, the grand old man of the tree world, an enduring figure wrapped in bark.

This ancient Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) has seen it all from its lofty perch high in California’s White Mountains, clocking in at a sprightly 4,855 years old.

That makes it the oldest non-clonal tree we know about (with confirmed age), barring Sunday morning gossip in the forest.

Methuselah, nestled in the cozy confines of “Methuselah Grove” within the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, has become quite the celebrity in the arboreal realm.

After a headline-making photo leak in 2021, its exact location is now well-known, securing its status both literally and figuratively in the tree hierarchy.

But fear not, the United States Forest Service plays a mean game of keep-away to prevent any harm coming to it.

Now, calling Methuselah the oldest tree on record does stir up some botanical beef. There’s some tree ring-counting drama involving Methuselah’s age.

Originally counted at 4,789 years in 1957, later checks suggest it might be a tad younger at 4,666 years old.

Methuselah Bristlecone Pine
Is this the real Methuselah? Or a decoy to protect the ancient Bristlecone Pine?

Meanwhile, other ancient contenders like the Llangernyw Yew and the Fortingall Yew in the UK make claims that could shake Methuselah’s throne, waving around estimated ages that could stretch to 5,000 years.

And then there’s Prometheus, another bristlecone who was felled in his prime at 4,844 years old. He might have outlasted Methuselah if not for a chainsaw mishap in 1964.

Prometheus_tree2
The stump and some remains of the Prometheus tree – Jrbouldin at English Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Plus, a mysterious older sibling reportedly discovered in 2009 but lost after the researcher’s death, might have reset the whole age contest altogether.

But single-stem trees are just the tip of the age-old iceberg.

Consider the Pando aspen, a clonal colony sprawling across Utah and estimated to be up to 80,000 years old.

Or the sprightly 9,500-year-old Norway spruce colony in Sweden, both giving new meaning to “old growth.”

In the end, Methuselah isn’t just a tree; it’s a symbol of endurance, a bark-bound bridge to the past, and possibly the most patient entity on the planet.

So, the next time you feel impatient, just think of Methuselah—quietly outliving civilizations with nothing but time and a good bit of photosynthesis on its side.

Digging Deeper

Location

Methuselah proudly stands within the “Methuselah Grove” in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, nestled in the high altitudes of California’s White Mountains.

California's White Mountains
Bristlecone Pine Forest in California’s White Mountains

Type of Tree

This ancient sentinel is a Great Basin bristlecone pine, scientifically known as Pinus longaeva, renowned for its longevity and hardiness.

Bristlecone Pine in California's White Mountains
Bristlecone Pine in California’s White Mountains (Not Methuselah)

Is Methuselah Still Alive?

Yes, Methuselah continues to thrive, holding the title of the oldest non-clonal tree in the world at over 4,855 years old.

Descendants

While Methuselah itself is a unique specimen, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is home to many other bristlecone pines, some potentially as old, continuing its lineage of ancient trees.

Can You Visit It?

While the United States Forest Service safeguards Methuselah, its exact coordinates have been disclosed online. Visitors are welcome to explore the accessible Methuselah Grove and experience the presence of these ancient giants.

Conservation

The tree is under the protection of the United States Forest Service, which takes extensive measures to ensure its safety and the preservation of its natural habitat.

Legacy

Methuselah’s impressive age and survival through millennia offer invaluable insights into longevity and resilience, symbolizing enduring life in the harshest conditions.

Want More?

Are you drawn to the intriguing lore of ancient trees like Methuselah?

If so, explore other natural wonders such as the peculiar Crooked Forest in Poland, the singular Pennantia baylisiana — the world’s rarest tree, the monumental Prison Boab Tree of Australia, Hyperion — the tallest of trees, the historic Olive Tree of Vouves, the lonely majesty of Niger’s Tree of Ténéré, or the majestic Avenue of Baobabs.

Each tree weaves its own unique narrative, blending the beauty of nature with the tapestry of human history, beckoning you to discover more and ponder their profound impact.

Sources – Wikipedia

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Lakeisha Ethans

Heritage Gardener with Grafting Expertise

Lakeisha grew up in East Africa, literally surrounded by nature which sparked her interest in learning more about trees and plants from a very young age. She belongs to a family of gardeners, so for her, gardening is a way of life, a tradition she’s proud to uphold. As a self-taught gardener, Lakeisha has successfully grafted trees to produce hybrids for gardens and landscapes. When she’s not gardening, she’s writing about her experience with nature or watching baking fails!