What Is the Methuselah Tree?

methuselah-tree Credit: yenchao/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

"Methuselah" is the nickname of the oldest living tree in the world, which was documented as being around 4,789 years old in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Methuselah is a bristlecone pine in the Inyo National Forest that scientists believe predates the Egyptian pyramids.

Methuselah is named after a long-lived biblical figure who purportedly lived to be 969 years old. The tree was originally studied by Edmund Schulman and Tom Harlan in 1957, and their samples indicate that the tree was germinated around 2832 B.C. Bristlecone pines are naturally hardy and highly resistant to changing temperatures, pests and dry soil, making them capable of surviving in harsh mountainous environments. However, the U.S. Forest Service protects Methuselah by keeping its exact location concealed from the public.