Scientists get their hands on a tree older than 2.600

We all know that trees are among living things whose longevity is beyond all understanding. The bald cypress found by a team of scientists in the Three Sisters marsh at Black River, North Carolina, is a perfect example.

It is by making measurements in a stand of bald cypress trees that researchers knew they had come across this millennial tree. In a way, it's a pretty fortuitous discovery, because mainly their objective was to study the climatic history of the region and the sensitivity of tree species to climate change.

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This species of cypress, the Taxodium distichum, is known for its longevity that can easily exceed a thousand years. Moreover, this study reveals that these are the oldest tree species known so far, among those that populate wetlands. This particular individual having at least 2.624 years of existence according to the scientists.

The fifth species in terms of longevity for monoclonal trees

For the longevity of trees, scientists make a distinction between clonal trees, which are genetically identical because they come from the same strain and can live for tens of thousands of years, and non-clonal trees, which reproduce sexually. that is to say with seeds that spread.

Currently, the oldest non-clonal tree has been discovered in 2012 in the Rocky Mountains. It is a pine species, the Bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva), and one estimates its age at more than 5.065 years. Behind him, we can find other species such as the Chestnut Alerce (Fitzroya cuppressoides), the giant sequoia (Sequoiadendrum giganteum) whose representative is the famous "General Sherman" in Califormia, and juniper (Juniperus occidentalis).

A population that may disappear with the effects of climate change

Even though there are many trees on our planet (a study published in Nature in 2015 estimates that it is about 3.000 billion), the risks posed by the effects of climate change are real, for example in the case of a rise in sea level.

Indeed, in the case of the bald cypress forest stand studied by these researchers, located only 2 meters above sea level, it may disappear under the waves.

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