The Amazing Bristlecone Pine Tree

Have you ever counted the rings of a tree on a stump or fallen log? A person can learn a lot just from studying the rings of a tree. You can tell the age of the tree, what years were dry or extremely wet, or whether the tree grew in cloudy or sunny conditions. Scientists have studied trees for generations in various fields of interest for diverse purposes. One such field of interest is that of dendrochronology.

Dendrochronology is the scientific method of tree dating. Among all the trees of the world that are studied, the bristlecone pine trees are the longest living trees and are debatably thought to be the oldest living things. Only the creosote bush in the Mojave Desert may potentially be older. The bristlecone pine tree is notable for its ability to thrive in harsh conditions and for its longevity.

Bristlecone pine trees form a set of three species. The Great Basin bristlecone pine, which is the species famous for its longevity, grows in Utah, Nevada, and eastern California. The Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine tree grows throughout parts of Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. The Foxtail pine, the third species of the group, grows in two distinctly separate areas – one in the Klamath Mountains and the other in the southern Sierra Nevada. All three species of bristlecone pine trees grow in isolated groves, or clusters, in high elevation, very arid climates, usually just below the tree line.

In the White Mountains of California grows one such tree dated as of 2017 at an impressive 4,849 years of age. Imagine – this tree was a seedling before even the Egyptians built the pyramids! Scientists believe another bristlecone pine tree found in Inyo National Forest to be over 5,060 years old! For all lovers of hiking and National Park vacationing, a visit to places like Great Basin National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park would add a little awe and wonder to your life as you traverse the trails winding by the clusters of bristlecone pine trees and contemplate how much history surrounds these impressive conifers.

Why should you express any interest in a single type of tree? Apart from their impressive capacity to survive millennia in difficult conditions, what is the draw to bristlecone pine trees? When you walk among the bristlecone pines, you walk among the ancients. See history living directly before you. Feel the spirit of the tribes and communities that had gone before you and dwelt among these mountains and trees, and touch these same branches and tree trunks. As you feel the wind-battered bark, you brush against a living organism essential to discovering the happenings of our past as a human race. How can we know how to proceed in our future if we do not understand our past? Additionally, we can mold our existences like that of the bristlecone pine tree. It has adapted to survive and thrive even when the going gets tough, the winds howl and blow, and the world seems harsh and cold. And so can we.

We live in South- with Southern Live Oak Tree’s

Southern live oak trees are an iconic symbol of strength throughout the southeastern section of the United States. Their widespread canopies stretch broader than any other species of oak tree. They provide excellent shade for outdoor activities, and their durability stands the test of time for tree houses, tire, and rope swings. Their density is more substantial than other hardwood trees making them the ultimate sturdy timber for building heavyweight projects. People all over the world love live oak trees for their versatility of uses. However, I bet you didn’t know these five things about live oak trees!

1. Live oak trees are evergreens.
The Southern live oak tree derives its name from the fact that it remains “alive” during the winter months. Its leaves stay green and intact, differentiating it from most other oak tree varieties which lose their leaves in the autumn and winter, becoming dormant.

2. Most of the wood in a southern live oak tree is resides in its branches.
Most trees harvested for timber, such as pine and other various conifer trees, bear it in their tall trunks. The southern live oak is shorter in height and can boast a crown up to or over four times the size in volume than that of its base. One of the most massive live oaks dwells in New Orleans, Louisiana. The girth of its trunk at its breast height is 35’2”, while its crown measures at 165′!

3. Live oaks don’t grow in the northern tier of the United States.
Although you might be able to coax a live oak to grow in a hardiness zone not too far north of Zone 7, live oak trees thrive in fertile, coastal soil as well as along banks and rivers. They symbolize all that is good and rich and prosperous in the Old South, marking their territory with their distinctive appearance.

4.Southern live oak roots grow laterally.
Unlike many other trees, the southern live oak tree root system extends out to provide a stable anchor system for the massive trees as they grow. One of the largest species of oak tree east of the Mississippi River, the live oak tree roots can spread up to 90 feet from the trunk, and extend up to a third of the distance from the edge of its crown. Dry areas where live oaks grow may see smaller “sinker” roots grow vertically down from the lateral roots, but the bulk of the root system is lateral and close to the surface.

5. Paving the ground over the roots of a live oak can kill it.
Besides the photosynthetic process of its leaves, the roots of a southern live oak work to collect oxygen as well as nutrients and water from the soil around it. If you pave closer than 15 feet from the trunk of a live oak, the oxygen supply will be significantly inhibited, causing the tree to die slowly. You can pave with loose materials up to six feet from the trunk, but any closer and you harm the tree.



Southern Live Oak Trees and “Old Ironsides”

Who doesn’t love a good old oak tree? People for generations have enjoyed countless afternoons climbing the branches of oak trees, building treehouses and forts up in the branch rafters, and swinging from tire or rope swings beneath their magnificent canopies. Couples and families alike spread picnic blankets under the shade of oak trees for a day of revelry and fun. Oaktree lumber makes beautiful, solid furniture. The timber from felled oaks creates sturdy boards for building all sorts of things.

Our nation’s founding fathers believed oak trees to be strong enough for the lumber to build the first commissioned naval ships of our new foundling nation. One of these vessels, the U.S.S. Constitution, was a wooden-hulled, three-masted, war-armed frigate. It was named by none other than George Washington himself after the Constitution of the United States of America. The U.S.S. Constitution met other naval ships in battle during the Quasi-War, the First Barbary Wars, and the War of 1812, among many others.

During the War of 1812 on August 19, it met the HMS Guerriere upon the high seas – a French naval vessel which was captured by the British. During an open fire exchange between the two ships, the Constitution received little damage. The British were astonished as cannon balls rebounded harmlessly off the side of the ship, but left the exchange left the HMS Guerriere so damaged it wasn’t even worth towing to port! An American sailor is said to have exclaimed, “Huzzah! Her sides are made of iron!” Thus the U.S.S. Constitution was dubbed the nickname of “Old Ironsides.”

CannonBalls for Years
What made the cannonballs rebound off the side of the ship without splintering a single beam? “Old Ironsides” and her sister ships were built with intentions of quality and durability which stood the test of time. Incredibly strong southern live oak timber fitted both the hull and the framing of the ship. The beautiful, wide-reaching hardwood of the southern live oak tree has a density of 75 pounds per cubic foot, making it denser than water, which measures at 62.4 pounds per cubic foot. The density of southern live oak hardwood is also heavier than most other commonly used timbers used for various sorts of construction, making it an ideal candidate for heavy-weight shipbuilding. The builders of “Old Ironsides” also used internal braces made of individual trees, resulting in a magnificently robust warship that deflected cannonballs as if made of iron.

Southern live oak trees are long living trees, sometimes living up to 400 years old. This is why the Tree Service Wichita KS companies LOVE them so much. They produce acorns at age 20, enjoyed by wildlife of all sorts including turkeys, deer, squirrels, ducks, and jays. Their branches extend broader than any other species of oak tree. The name “live oak” is derived from the fact that the southern live oak tree remains “alive” and green during the winter when most other oak trees become leafless and lie dormant. It is no wonder the American founders chose the southern live oak to protect our new nation!