IYOF 3: The Trembling Giant

As 2011 is officially International Year of Forests, this is the next in a series of articles about trees.

Pando.  No it’s not a character from The Magic Roundabout, but a tree (named after the latin for (‘I spread’).  More accurately it’s one root system linked to thousands of trunks, creating collectively the oldest tree on earth at 80, 000 years.

Granted this estimate is based on when the conditions in that area were last favourable to germination, and some scientists understand the growth to be closer to a million years old.    Pando, a single male Quaking Aspen, stands inside the Fishlake National Forest, about 200 miles south of Salt Lake City.

In comparison to Pando’s most widely held total age of 80,000 years, the most accepted view among anthropologists is that Homo sapiens first migrated out of Africa to Eurasia and Oceania only 40,000 years ago, a million years back Homo antecessor are just beginning to do their thing, flowers are a new and shiny concept and the first bees are found in the fossil record.

Aspen trees reproduce by sending up new trunks from a single root system.  All of Pando’s estimated 47,000 trunks are genetic clones with an average age of 130 years.  Why the Trembling Giant?  It’s a nickname for all Quaking Aspens, because their leaves are known to rattle.

You can find the Wikipedia entry on Pando Here,

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