Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Bristlecone Pines of Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park, in Baker, NV, is halfway between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City - and is some distance west of the highway between the cities. Great Basin National Park has one of the most undiluted views of the nighttime sky of any venue in America.

Great Basin National Park has Bristlecone Pines which are thousands of years old. Bristlecone Pines are the oldest living trees in the world, and are only found in America.

Wow. WOW. I want to visit this park. I want to gaze at a gazillion stars and hug a three thousand year old tree.

"One bristlecone pine near Wheeler Peak was dated to be more than 4,900 years old. This tree, known as "Prometheus", was cut down and sectioned for scientific research in 1964 before Great Basin National Park was established.

Bristlecone pines in Great Basin National Park grow in isolated groves just below treeline. Conditions are harsh, with cold temperatures, a short growing season, and high winds. Bristlecone pines in these high-elevation environments grow very slowly, and in some years don't even add a ring of growth. This slow growth makes their wood very dense and resistant to insects, fungi, rot, and erosion. Vegetation is very sparse, limiting the role of fire. Bristlecone pine seeds are occassionally cached by birds at lower elevations. Bristlecone pines grow more rapidly in more "favorable" environments at lower elevations. They do not achieve their legendary age or fascinating twisted shapes."


Webutante said...

Wonderful, refreshing post...I've never even heard of this national park. WOW! Thanks.

gcotharn said...

I had never heard of it, either, but it looks ... refreshing :)