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Paleo Slide Set: Tree Rings: Ancient Chronicles of Environmental Change
Bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva), White Mountains, California.
Since one of the goals of dendroclimatology is to reconstruct climate for as long of a period as possible, the oldest trees that can be found are sampled. Old trees are not always the biggest trees, but are commonly characterized by heavy, gnarled limbs, spiked tops, and in the case of ancient bristlecone pine, "strip bark" stems with only a narrow ribbon of living bark (cambium). Bristlecone pine of the Great Basin region of western North America are the oldest known living trees, up to 5,000 years old.

Photo Credits:
Jonathan Pilcher
Palaeoecology Centre, Queen's University, Belfast
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Last Modified: 12 October 2001

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