Methuselah tree, the oldest in the world

The Pinus longaeva is a tree that lives for many years

Image - Flickr / Jim Morefield

Plants are one of the few living things that can live for thousands of years; even within this great kingdom, there are only a few species that make it. One of them is the Pinus longaeva, which is the one to which the tree named Methuselah.

These conifers live in high-altitude areas, where the winters are very cold and long, and the summer lasts no more than a few weeks.. But it is precisely these harsh conditions that force them to grow at an extremely slow rate, thus managing to exceed 4000 years of age.

What are the characteristics of the Methuselah tree?

The Pinus longaeva is a slow tree

Image - Flickr / brewbooks

The Methuselah tree is a plant that is highly protected, so much so that we can't show you a picture of it because we just haven't found it. But we can tell you that It is located in California (United States), specifically in the Inyo National Forest.

It is a conifer that He is approximately 4847 years old., discovered in 1930 by paleontologist Edmund Schulman. This man was a scientist who was dedicated to studying tree rings to find out when the different periods of drought occurred to date.

But how is our protagonist? Well, looking at images of specimens of Pinus longaeva who are already old, we can assume that it has the trunk twisted on itself. A wide trunk, perhaps 2 meters in diameter, but low in height, as the strong winds do not allow it to grow much larger.

In this sense, it is very rare for long-lived pines to exceed 5 meters in height; only those that are a little protected can reach 15 meters.

Also, the Methuselah tree is almost at the end of its life. There are those who consider that "he is more dead than alive", so it probably only has a few branches with green leaves.

Of course, all this is assumptions, as I say based on what can be seen in the images of Pinus longaeva who are very old, and taking into account the conditions in which these trees live.

The United States Forest Service refuses to reveal the exact location to avoid vandalism, something that unfortunately already happened in 1964, when a university student ordered (or cut, it is not clear) the root of a giant: Prometheus, who was also of the same species as Methuselah, but was older: he had about 4900 years.

To this day, the remains of Prometheus are well kept at the University of Arizona.

And of course, no one wants Methuselah to suffer the same fate, nor to end up harmed by the people who want to see it.

Is the Methuselah tree the oldest in the world?

When looking for information on the Internet about this specimen, practically all sites tell you that yes, it is the oldest. and yes it is. Furthermore, it is estimated that the Pinus longaeva It can live up to 5200 years of age.

However there is a living organism that is much, much older. I'm talking about lazy tree, an aspen whose roots are about 80.000 years old. It grows in North America, to be more exact, on the Fish Lake plateau in Colorado (Utah).

How do you take care of the Pinus longaeva?

The cones of Pinus longaeva are large

Image – Wikimedia/Jim Morefield

It is a conifer that lives well only in places where the climate is similar to that of its place of origin. For this reason, It should not be planted in the tropics, the Mediterranean region or in other warm areas.

It is a mountain tree, adapted to live in extreme conditions. Therefore, the heat that is usually in countries like Spain for example, would not do you any good. But if you live in an area where the summers are cool, and if there is significant snowfall during the winter, then it can be interesting to have one. These are the general care you should give it:

  • Location: put it outdoors from the first moment. If the climatic conditions are the ones just mentioned, you can put it in a sunny place; otherwise it is preferable that it be in shade or semi-shade.
  • Soil or substrate: it is very important that the soil is slightly acidic and with excellent drainage. If you are going to have it in a pot, it is advisable to put a substrate for acid plants, such as this.
  • Irrigation: you have to water it every 3 or 4 days in summer. During the rest of the seasons you will have to do it more spaced, since the land remains dry longer.
  • Subscriber: you can fertilize it with an ecological fertilizer, such as earthworm humus or guano (for sale here!). Take advantage of the warmer months to do so, following the instructions for use.
  • Rusticity: it is a tree that can withstand temperatures down to -34ºC; on the other hand, it does not like heat (20ºC or more).

As you can see, the Methuselah tree and the species to which it belongs are very unique living beings.


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