#2 – Great Basin Bristlecone Pine
The Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva) is a long-living species of tree found in the high mountains of the southwest U.S. It is the oldest non-clonal organism on Earth at over 5,000 years old, meaning that some trees were living during the Stone Age!
A study published in 2001 compared the tree’s pollen and seeds of various ages up to 4,700 years, and found no significant increase in mutation rates with age. What’s more, the vascular tissue functioned just as well in ancient trees as in juveniles.
Though older trees actually look old and weather-beaten, on a cellular level they appear to be as youthful as they were thousands of years ago. Though more research needs to be done, scientists think it probably comes down to a special property of the trees’ meristems, which are bits of the roots and shoots that are home to populations of stem cells that generate new growth.