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RE: Plant Ages, Old Organisms
> KAnderson at psg_ucsf.edu wrote:
> How old is the oldest organism? I know of ~2000
> > old redwoods. Is there some other organism than is older. What
> > coral reefs? What about bacteria?
> I have been told that there are trees (alders?)
> have interconnected roots and therefore all the trees are one
> it is ONE PLANT THAT IS ACERS AND ACERS. Urban legend?
The current "oldest organism" is the Bristlecone Pine (Pinus
in California, one individual ranking in at 4,723 and counting.
are found to be older than 4,000 years.
There is some current thought in dendrochronology that some
clones (many aspen groves are "clones" of a single organism, all
joined at the root system) may actually be older. However, that
means the clone itself is older, not individuals (not single
These clones (the root system, anyway) seem to be able to span
Coral reefs are ecosystems, which may live a long time. "System
age" is a completely different issue. Bacterial individuals are
very short lived, although some spores are viable after being
discovered after ~3,000 years or more. The bacterial colonies
live a long time, but that's an ecosystem thing depending on
sustainment in some balance with other environmental population
I think you mean "acres", not "acers". When I hear "Acer", I
of "Maple" since that's the species genus. "Acer saccharum",
example, is "Sugar Maple".
Yes, one individual propagating through layering, runners, root
etc. may easily take up acres.
For the most part, the candle that burns twice as bright burns
half as long. The oldest living things usually have slow
metabolisms and short growing seasons, or long cycles. There
was a good thread in this list several years ago on how our
neon tetras (Paracheirodon innesi) or any of our fish seemed to
live longer if they grew at the lower limits of their
tolerance (implies colder water, higher 02 availability, and
I'm not ready to make that conclusion for plants, though...
shorter growing seasons to "add years" to a plant's existence
seems to be significant only for (real) perenials that handle
extreme seasonal changes. That implies an extended diapause
or "shut-down" mode where little biological activity takes
This "shut-down" time doesn't really "count" against the
individual's "lifespan", because being "frozen" for five months
or ten months is, for the most part, the same thing. I don't
see that existing significantly for our mostly herbacious
(non-woody) aquatic plants.
charleyb at cytomation_com