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Archive for great basin national park

Bristling in Nevada

By Linda Tancs

Characterized by their growth in twisted fashion at high altitudes, bristlecone pines are one of the longest-lived life forms on Earth. The name bristlecone refers to the dark purple female cones that bear incurved prickles on their surface. Nevada’s Great Basin National Park is noted for its ancient grove of bristlecone pines, a species only otherwise found in California and Utah. Although the largest grove of pines in the park is on Mt. Washington, the most accessible grove is located on the northeast side of Wheeler Peak, where a short, self-guided nature trail passes through a portion of it. The tree is legendary for its ability to thrive in impossible conditions, as is evidenced by the roots set among quartzite boulders. That no doubt accounts for the longevity of Prometheus, once recorded as the oldest tree in the world at between 4,700 to 5,000 years. The stump of that ancient bristlecone is in the park. You can count its rings at the visitor center.

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