Sprouting at a time when the pyramids of Egypt weren’t even built, this tree nicknamed after Methuselah was once deemed as the oldest known tree in the entire world.
At a glorious 4,800 years of age, this Great Basin Bristlecone Pine stands healthy and unaffected by the harsh climate conditions in the White Mountains of eastern California.
It bears the name of the renowned Biblical figure Methuselah, the pre-flood character who had allegedly lived for 969 years.
Its location is secluded to prevent vandalism of any sorts, a lesson probably learned from another timeworn specimen – the Prometheus Tree, that had been destroyed by accident over five decades ago.
The Methuselah Tree, however, stands tall despite the observations of Robert Mohlenbrock, a professor of botany at Southern Illinois University at Carbonade.
He asserted “that any organism that lived longer than the norm had to have optimal conditions going for it…that would mean moderate temperatures, shelter from extreme weather, and plenty of moisture and nutrients.”
Against all odds, the Methuselah Tree had endured a not-so-hospitable place (for a tree at least). And it even seems to enjoy the semi-arid boreal climate where it grows roots now.
The Bristlecone Pine was discovered in 1957 by Edmund Schulman and Tom Harlan. Upon sampling its bark and stem, they arrived to the conclusion that Methuselah had outlived numerous rise and fall of civilizations across 4,789 years. It used to be still la sapling in 2832 B.C., having outlived the rise of the famous pyramids in Egypt.
It remains safely in the Methuselah Grove in the Forest of Ancients in Inyo National Forest. Surrounded by various other ancient trees, the Methuselah Tree is willing to push its age further to amaze other generations of humans to follow.
It used to be the oldest softwood in the world until a recent discovery of a Norway spruce. The latter has been sampled and proven to have a lifespan close to ten millennia. It’s been dubbed “Old Tjikko,” and sits in the Swedish arctic. However, it is not as imposing as Methuselah Tree.
Methuselah is a Biblical figure mentioned by two extremely important Jewish works – The Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilees, both dubiously removed from the official King James version of the Bible.
He was the son of Enoch, and the grandfather of Noah. Being informed by Enoch of the impending cataclysm that God was about to send forth, he assists Noah in trying to allure people back to godliness.
Methuselah proves his righteousness not only before the Great Deluge, but also during his life. Accounts speak of the great sword he yielded (Sword of Methuselah) used to subdue evil spirits and ghosts.
He is most renowned for his formidable lifespan of 969 years, making him the oldest man who had lived, according to Biblical accounts.
Standing tall for so many years and in a harsh climate with only a few patches of soil remaining, the Methuselah Tree seems to have earned its name accordingly.
If you intend to visit the tree in the White Mountain of California, I’m sure there’s a way to break the seclusion surrounding it, but only if you’ll treat it with utmost respect.
Are you planning to drop by the Methuselah Grove anytime soon? Have you been there before?
If so, I would love to hear about your experience, so don’t hesitate to share it with me.
References: Atlas Obscura