Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The title above is usually given to "Methuselah," a bristlecone pine in California which is 4,500 to 5,000 years old. Swedish researchers, though, have a new entry that blows that record away. A cluster of Norway spruce trees in Sweden, they have announced, was living 8,000 years ago. The trunk of a spruce can last only about 600 years, but these trees, clustered on a mountain slope exposed to harsh weather, have maintained a continuous existence by replacing each trunk with a new one. In the coldest times, the plants grew only about a half-meter tall, but warmer times in recent decades have encouraged them to reach higher - which is why they were eventually noticed.