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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Very Old and Very Alive

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Thursday, November 1, 2018/Categories: natural history, photography, sustainability, art and design, environment


                 Clonal Pando Aspen Grove in Fishlake National Forest, Utah  (credit; Wikicommons)

How old is old? You'd be surprised just how old are some relic plants.

Rachel Sussman and ~8,000 year old Llareta cushion plant, Atacama Desert, Chile (credit: OLTW)

The question of ancient age attracted the attention of photographer Rachel Sussman. She took 10 years to photograph them all for her book, Oldest Living Things in the World. In her quest, Sussman discovered a plant in Namibia whose existence pre-dates the dinosaurs; a massive grove of aspen trees in Utah consisting of a single, self-reproducing clone; and a moss covered mountain in Antarctica that has likely existed since the last ice age.

As the fine art photographer documented these ancient survivors in her photographs, their existence was in danger from one threat or another. Two of these botanical wonders were gone before her book was published and the reproduction of Pando Aspen grove, the largest living organism on Earth, is threatened by overgrazing.


    Clonal Aspen ~80,000 years old, Utah and Antactica Beech ~6000 years old, Tasmania (credit: TOTW )

Rachel Sussman gave a TED presentation on her botanical quest as well:

Sussman and her amazing photographs offer new meaning to these still living Methuselah plants and the importance of their conservation.



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