the tree of life: methuselah & metaphor

From top, a trio of the most ancient, magnificent living things:

1: ‘Old Tjikko; this ancient, 16-foot tall Norway spruce lives in the scrubby Fulufjället Mountains in Sweden … at 9,550 years, it is the oldest single-stemmed clonal tree, and took root not long after the glaciers receded from Scandinavia after the last ice age ‘ …. photo via Leif Kullman, the geographer who discovered it in 2008 …

2: ‘Pando; not technically the oldest individual tree, but a 105-acre clonal colony of Quaking Aspen in Utah, genetically identical trees connected by a single root system … the “trembling giant” began life at least 80,000 years ago, when our human ancestors were still living in Africa … some estimate the woodland could be as old as 1 million years, which would mean Pando predates the earliest Homo sapiens by 800,000 years ‘ … photo via Darkmatter’s flickr …

3: The ‘true’ Methuselah’s location is kept secret; ‘Bristlecone Pine, far out on a ridge near the Patriarch Grove, White Mountains, California’ … ‘the world’s oldest individual tree lives 10,000 feet above sea level in the Inyo National Forest, California … a staggering 4,765 years old ‘ … photo via walking along’s flickr …

“The affinities of all the beings of the same class have sometimes been represented by a great tree. I believe this simile largely speaks the truth” … and “… I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever-branching and beautiful ramifications.”
—Darwin, 1872 [7]

Trio of illustrations, to bottom, where the evolutionary concept of the ‘Tree of Life’ takes root:

1: ‘Charles Darwin’s 1837 sketch, his first diagram of an evolutionary tree from his First Notebook on Transmutation of Species (1837) on view at the the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan’, via here

2: ‘The Tree of Life as seen by Ernst Haeckel in the The Evolution of Man (1879)’, via here … ‘Haeckel showed a main trunk leading to mankind with minor branches to various animals, unlike Darwin’s branching evolutionary tree [157]’ …

3: ‘Ramification of a Banyan Tree drawn from Nature 1778/Banyan Tree with many trunks – W Stoker, D Redman, after J Forbes 1811’; the original painting appears to be unattributed … yet seems to best illustrate the metaphor of Darwin’s ‘Tree of Life’, 59 years prior to his own famous sketch … via National Library of Australia

And, a trio of superb essays on the recent ramifications of the ‘Tree of Life’ metaphor

… 2011 is also International Year of Forests … for all things arboreal, possibly in your neck of the woods, visit Festival of the Trees …!

the last stand of forest primeval

‘Earth’s Oldest Trees/Trembling Giants’, by Austrian-based artist Michael Paukner, via this incredible list … & MP adds the quote:

‘For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver’ (Martin Luther) …