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The biggest bristlecone.

The history books were among, and they'd still be wrong were it not for a clear record of the centuries provided by some of the oldest living things on earth

Carbon-14 dating of ancient European artifacts placed Europe's cultural origins in the Middle East. But when the technique was used to date the wood of bristlecone pines determined from tree-ring counts to be 4,000 to some 8,000 years old, the C-14 dating system was found to be off by as much as five centuries. Bristlecone corrected figures showed that many European artifacts predated their counterparts in the Middle East.

Of the living bristlecone pines that helped rewrite European history, the most ancient one is 4,600 years old. But the National Champion-named The Patriarch by nominator Al Noren -is only 1,500 years old, so it might reign for 3,000 more years ! The Patriarch grows in one of the world's most unforgiving environments, the alpine desert of the White Mountains in California. At 11,000 feet, in the rain shadow of the Sierras, The Patriarch must endure a short growing season, ravaging winds, bitter winters, and only 10 inches of precipitation a year.

These hardships make it all the more remarkable that The Patriarch's girth is exceeded by the champions of only nine other species, including redwood and sequoia. Most of them will decompose long before The Patriarch reaches old age.

Sprouting about the time Attila the Hun invaded Europe, The Patriarch's 500th birthday occurred during the Crusades, and the tree was a bit over 1,000 years old when Columbus set sail. Chances are good that it will still be on AFA's National Register of Big Trees in the year 5000. AF
Common Name: Bristlecone (or
(Intermountain) Pine
Species Name: Pinus aristata var.
 longaeva
Location: Inyo National
 Forest, CA
Nominator: A. E. Noren
Circumference:
 39 ft. 5 in.
Height: 47 ft.
Spread: 41 ft.
Total Points: 530
The National Register of Big
Trees is sponsored by
the Dorey Tree Expert Company.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Forests
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:The Patriarch, United States' biggest bristlecone pine
Author:Bronaugh, Whit
Publication:American Forests
Date:Jul 1, 1991
Words:335
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