Apr
13
2008

Recently discovered tree puts “Methuselah” where it belongs: down.

Bristlecone pines are actually much smaller than this: So the chopping should be pretty easy.
Bristlecone pines are actually much smaller than this: So the chopping should be pretty easy.Courtesy purplekey
The world has finally gotten sick of California’s bristlecone pine Methuselah, and offered up something better.

The bristlecone pines of the White Mountains in California are some of the oldest living objects in the world, with one individual, nicknamed “Methuselah,” having been aged at around 5,000 years. Now five thousand years is older than most people I know, but I don’t think that I’d go around calling those trees “super old” or anything. More along the lines of “kind of old,” and for decades we’ve had to put up with complaints over these kind-of-old trees (e.g. “Don’t cut it down! It’s kind of old!”) Since when has something being kind of old ever stopped us from destroying it?

Well, now Methuselah won’t even be able to play that card anymore, because its kind of old woody butt has been blown out of the water by a new old tree, an 8000-year-old Norway spruce, found, ironically, in Sweden. 8000 years—I think we can safely call that “pretty old.”

While an individual trunk of the spruce may only live about 600 years, the organism will put up a new one as soon as the old trunk dies, which has allowed some of the trees to survive since just about the end of the last ice age.
A cultivated dwarf spruce: This Norway spruce was made to be small, but the ancient stunted ones in Sweden probably look about the same.
A cultivated dwarf spruce: This Norway spruce was made to be small, but the ancient stunted ones in Sweden probably look about the same.Courtesy SEWilco

The carbon-dated pretty-old tree was found in a cluster of similarly aged Norway spruces in the mountains of western Sweden, in an area that has remained untouched by commercial logging. The harsh environmental conditions of the area have forced the trees to stay very small—only about a foot and a half tall—but last several decades have brought a warmer climate to the area, and the trees have “popped up like mushrooms,” making them much easier to find in the mountainous terrain. This will also make them more fun for me to chop down when an older tree is found.

Update!
According to this article, one of the trees is 9,550 years old. There's actually a cluster of about twenty spruce that are at least 8,000 years old.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

andyshadexx's picture
andyshadexx says:

i think it kinda harsh if we just cut the tree down just because we fund another older trees some where els.
But ok i guess,also plz try to save the environment!

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 9:53am
Looney_Tooney's picture
Looney_Tooney says:

Yeah!
Dont Cut It Down Sheesh...

U Kno Wat Im Sayin!!!

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 10:03am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Too late--the old (younger) tree has already been cut down. Turned out the thing was full of elves. I guess the saw went right through one of them. It sounded awful--literally.

posted on Fri, 04/18/2008 - 9:33am
nelson.robin's picture
nelson.robin says:

thats crazy man i think they shouldn't be so quick to cut a tree down man i swear they taken the animals home away lol fo real

posted on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 8:46am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Wow all I can say is with you're poor attitude, you're likely to never be admired or your blog to continue being read...

Cutting down trees because they're only 'kind of old" rather than, "pretty old"
Is extremely re-tard-ed.

thanks

posted on Sun, 05/11/2008 - 10:44pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

I'm not sure I see the connection.

Plus, my attitude is what got me to where I am today: Minnesota.

posted on Wed, 05/14/2008 - 11:06am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Methuselah is *gosh-darn* non-clonal. Who the *gee-golly* cares if a clonal species lives that long, they're just cloning themselves! Methuselah is an individual.

posted on Sun, 09/06/2009 - 7:30pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Yo, Anon

Sorry—I had to change those f-bombs into something a little more ridiculous and a little less offensive.

But, as to your point: sure. But I hate cloned things as much as I hate old things, so it doesn't really make much of a difference in terms of what I'll be chopping down.

posted on Tue, 09/08/2009 - 10:41am
harriettsmom's picture
harriettsmom says:

I had hoped desperately that this article was a hoax, or that you were one of those people with some snarky, weird sense of humor. I'd get to to the end of the article, and there we'd all be, chuckling over your clever joke.

This is no joke! Cutting down and destruction of a 5000 year old tree is shameful, and downright disgusting. What is happening in the world, when subdivisions and other developments are pushing over all the trees and wilderness, at the same time destroying very vulnerable biomes and pushing out wildlife into urban areas only to be killed.

In our small city, there has been a population and development CRAZE. Where has the wildlife gone? We have flocks of wild turkeys roaming about the 5 lanes of highway that used to be their home, as well as peacocks, deer, rabbits and many other species that I see on the sides of the road daily.

Your attitude about this "one kinda old tree" is harmful--not just to the overall person that you might (God forbid) infect with that nonsense, but you could use this blog for something good and not for your silly rantings. Fight FOR the trees and the environment, not make stupid jokes about it. The Earth will die without trees, and so will we. It's certainly an idea that you should think about (if you can stop and think...)

posted on Thu, 06/24/2010 - 11:41pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Harriett's mom! Of course I can stop and think! That was very cruel. What would Harriett think?

That said, I'd hate to ruin it for you as to whether or not this was a joke. It could be that I'm advocating the destruction of a single organism based on its uniquely long life. It could be that I assumed that position—one that the staunchest anti-environmentalist would find it hard to support—simply for the sake of its utter ludicrousness.

Or (check this out!!!) it could be that the post was some sort of meta-joke, through which I imply that the destruction of a single tree is ecologically meaningless compared to the tremendous pressure placed on the natural world by our highways, small cities, peacocks, and all the other engines of consumption that all of us fuel simply by living in a systemically resource-hungry society. As bad as I am, it makes even me feel depressed.

(Psyche! It was the second option. The silly one.)

posted on Fri, 06/25/2010 - 10:05am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

your a *butt*.... why don't we cut your sorry *butt* down...

posted on Thu, 12/02/2010 - 5:56pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Ok, I see your point, but let me offer a counter argument.

I propose that we not cut my sorry butt down, and here's why: my sorry butt is a vital part of the local ecosystem, and, what's more, it has just as much of a right to live as you or I. Unchecked development, over-exploitation of natural resources, and simple negligence has already led to rampant destruction of sorry butts in North America. Would you deprive future generations of mine... simply out of spite?

Think it through. I know you'll do the right thing.

*Sorry, I had to change your language a little. For the original phrasing, look between the asterisks, and use your imagination.

posted on Fri, 12/03/2010 - 10:49am

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