Oldest Living Trees

Bryce Canyon and the Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva)  

Bristlecone pines are very special trees. Conservatively, the oldest living bristlecone is well over 4500 years. Here in Bryce Canyon, the oldest documented tree is over 1500 years (just a youngster.) They can keep their pine needles for over 40 years. Some years, because of extreme weather, they may not grow at all. Bristlecones may be two or three times older than their tree rings indicate because of this ability to seemingly hibernate during extremely cold temperatures.

Bristlecone standing tiptoe on the rim of Bryce Canyon, Utah.

Some people travel very long distances to see the trees. One gentleman mentioned, “I come here for the bristlecones, the hoodoos are just a bonus. The bristlecones are symbolic of life for me because of what they have endured.” Bristlecones have been through everything under the sun. We believe they are to be respected. They’ve seen more than you and I will ever see. Anything that can persevere through centuries and millennia of changing seasons by withstanding the elements of wind, snow, fire, earthquakes, and lightning is of noble birth. Did you know that bristlecones only grow in the United States, and have only been found in five states: Colorado, Nevada, California, Arizona, and Utah? Have you ever seen the great bristlecone pine trees? What feelings did they conjure up in you?

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