The upper reaches of the White Mountains of California are home to the oldest known living trees on Earth – the bristlecone pines. Individual trees living today began life more than 40 centuries ago, about 2,000 years before the rise of the Roman Empire.
The ancient bristlecone pines preside over a harsh timberline environment that has been sculpted by wind, rain and snow. Located in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the region is starved for moisture, receiving less than 12 inches of precipitation annually, about 80% of which falls as snow. Gale force winds are common, summertime thunderstorms are often severe, and the alkaline soil is nutrient poor. Yet, these timberline ancients endure, clinging to the earth in defiance of the elements.
To learn more about the ancient bristlecone pine trees, see my following articles:
Nature Photographer Article
Sierra Heritage Article
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