Recently I read that there is a 5,000-year-old tree at a location in the United States that rangers won’t reveal for fear of too many curiosity seekers. Is that even possible to know — 5,000 years?
At National Geographic, Beth Moon has published photographs of other trees that are old, if not quite that old, and they look amazing.
Becky Harlan provides some background.
“Over three trillion trees live on planet Earth, and yet we know so few of their stories. Of course all trees play an important role—purifying the air, hosting the feathered and the furry, teaching kids (and kids at heart) how to climb—but some have spent more time doing these things than others. Quiver trees, for example, can live up to 300 years, oaks can live a thousand years, and bristlecone pines and yews can survive for millennia.
“In 1999, photographer Beth Moon took it upon herself to begin documenting some of these more seasoned trees. Specifically, she sought out aged subjects that were ‘unique in their exceptional size, heredity, or folklore.’ …
” ‘I am always amazed at the way trees have the ability to endure and adapt to severe conditions. Some ancient trees hollow out as they age as a survival technique. The tree will send an aerial root down the center of the trunk, which will continue to grow from the inside out.’
“In her book Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time, she explains that these ancient individuals ‘contain superior genes that have enabled them to survive through the ages, resistant to disease and other uncertainties.’ …
“Many of the real trees represented, however, face hard times ahead. ‘Quiver trees are dying from lack of water in Namibia. Dragon’s blood trees are in decline and on the endangered list, and three species of baobab trees are currently listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List,’ says Moon. …
“She hopes sharing her wonder will begin a conversation about the conservation of these arboreal treasures.”
Click here to read more and see magical photographs of ancient trees in Cambodia, Wales, Yemen, England, Madagascar, Florida, and Namibia.
Photo: Beth Moon
Rilke’s Bayon, Tetrameles nudiflora, in Ta Prohm, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia