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Bristlecone Pine Pinus aristata


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Family: Pinaceae, Pine view all from this family

Description Conifer of highly variable growth form, typically tall and upright. Branches and trunks gnarled and twisted at higher elevations. Bark thin, gray to reddish brown. High proportion of dead trunk and branch wood. Needles deep blue-green, with resinous scales, one inch long, in packets of five, completely surrounding the branches. Bunched tufts extend a foot or more along the branch, giving it the appearance of a bottle brush. New cones, deep purple color. Mature cones, brown color, with claw-like bristle on scales of each cone. Seeds gray-brown to black; wing longer than the seed. Shoots resinous, pale reddish brown. Pollen cones bluish to red. Seed cones mature in 2 years, shed seeds and fall.

Dimensions Height: 9.1-18 m. (30-60 ft.)
Diameter: up to 1.5 m. (5 ft.).

Habitat Mountains.

Range California, Rocky Mountains, Southwest.

Discussion Great Basin bristlecone pine has the longest life span of any nonclonal species in the world. The oldest known living Great Basin bristlecone pine had 4,862 countable annual rings when it was cut on Wheeler Peak in 1974. Downed trees in the White Mountains lived over 5,000 years before they fell. The oldest living organism known is a bristlecone pine tree nicknamed "Methuselah". Located in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains of eastern California; its precise location undisclosed to protect the tree. Three closely related species of bristlecone pine:
Rocky Mountains Bristlecone Pine: Pinus aristata in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona
Great Basin Bristlecone: Pine Pinus longaeva in Utah, Nevada and eastern California
Foxtail Pine: Pinus balfouriana in California.