October 04, 2012

Bristlecone Pines above Owens Valley, part 4 of 10


click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

East across Owens Valley from the Sierra range, high up in the White Mountains at 11,000 feet, live the oldest trees in the world--Bristlecone Pines. Some are as old as 4000 years. The oldest tree found is 4,723.

Their environment seems harsh and inhospitable, but the dry, cold, and high elevation keep tree diseases and insects at bay. Young trees soon become stunted, growing twisty and spindly, and most of all--very, very slowly.

This is a forest, but the trees are not in close proximity to one another. The charred tree (on right above) was hit by lightning and ignited recently, but because of the separation the fire did not spread to other trees.



click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

To find the age of these old trees a small core sample is carefully taken with a hollow drill and the rings are counted. In addition to determining the age of the tree, the closeness and width of the rings serve as a perfect record of ancient climate conditions, including the dating of major volcanic events. It is all right there recorded in the tree rings--our weather history going back 4000 years.



click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Dr. Edmund Schulman, a scientist from the University of Arizona became interested in examining tree rings in an effort to extend knowledge of climate and weather back as far as possible. His search for very old trees led him to this remote area in the 1950's. His discovery astounded him, Donald Kinney, and the world. Bristlecone Pines grow with approximately 100 rings per inch.



click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Dr. Schulman died not long after making his monumental discovery, but since then scientists have discovered what they now think is the oldest tree in the area, a 4,723 year-old Bristlecone Pine they have named Methuselah.


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5 comments:

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

That is a neat place and I must go back sometime soon. I'd like to find that charred lightning struck tree.

AphotoAday said...

HI JOHN (SINBAD'S DAD) -- Yeah I want to go back too. I wasn't able to cover all the trails and areas on this trip--the high elevation kicked me in the butt. I had forgotten what a long, long way it is up there--but wow, what a spectacular view of the Sierra.

photowannabe said...

Amazing!!!
Love the twisting and turning trees and the wonderful contortions of the trees.
It seems like you had an amazing trip.

Tree Service Hendersonville NC said...

Never in my life have I seen such twisted and unique trees and bark patterns, its beautiful. I wonder how smooth the wood is on the last one? It looks like I could smoothly glide my hand down it without getting any splinters. The second picture in the beginning is magnificent. Such detail and captured light effect. Got anymore of that one?

-Tony Salmeron

AphotoAday said...

Thanks TONY SALMERON for the nice comment. Twisted and tortured beyond belief, definitely! And yes, the surface of the wood on the barkless dead trees IS smooth. I suppose rain and wind must be like sandpaper, given enough time.

 
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