Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Earth Science

3,500 Year Old Florida Tree Dies of Natural Causes 206

Posted by timothy
from the post-primary-burning-bush dept.
hondo77 writes with an excerpt from The Daily "'Mother Nature claimed one of her oldest living specimens (Monday) in a freak fire that destroyed a 3,500-year-old bald cypress tree towering over central Florida. Known as "The Senator," or simply "The Big Tree," the hollowed-out majestic timber, standing at 118 feet tall, ignited before dawn. Firefighters watched helplessly as the oldest tree east of the Mississippi — and the fifth oldest in the world — blazed and then collapsed in a heap of flaming embers.' The fire likely started by 'either a weeks- old lightning strike that smoldered until combustion occured, or friction caused by buffeting winds that ignited a spark and erupted in flames.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

3,500 Year Old Florida Tree Dies of Natural Causes

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Informative)

    by SJHillman (1966756) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @09:34AM (#38902131)

    "(anyone here know off-hand where the other 4 older trees are?)"

    Methuselah, believed to be about 4,800 years old. It's a species of pine tree somewhere in California. The exact location is kept a secret. This is believed to be the oldest tree still alive.
    Most of the other oldest trees still living are giant sequoia scattered around California. I think Canada, Australia and Chile also have a few trees that were centuries old when Greek democracy was new.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2012 @09:53AM (#38902333)

    I live within 30 minutes of the tree, and we hadn't had any type of lightning for well over a month or two. The whole thing comes off as a bid odd here..

  • hey idiot. (Score:2, Informative)

    by unity100 (970058) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @10:04AM (#38902447) Homepage Journal

    a 3500 year old tree is a major scientific item. a more exciting tree would be a 4500 year old tree. or a 5500 year old tree. there's one in some american desert.

  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Informative)

    by smitty777 (1612557) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @10:12AM (#38902521) Journal

    There is an interesting article on the oldest trees in the world in this article [planetoddity.com]. It also has a good picture of The Senator before the fire.

  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Informative)

    by jc42 (318812) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @10:34AM (#38902689) Homepage Journal

    Methuselah, believed to be about 4,800 years old. It's a species of pine tree somewhere in California. The exact location is kept a secret. This is believed to be the oldest tree still alive.

    Methuselah is a bristlecone pine. And there's a pretty good reason for the secrecy. The article mentions the fear of vandalism. But in the case of the bristlecones, something worse happened. In 1964, there was another one nicknamed Prometheus that was believed to be the oldest tree. The US Forest Service sent a guy in with a chainsaw to cut it down so they could verify its age. It turned out to be over 4900 years old. No older bristlecones have been found. Other forestry people were sufficiently outraged by this that it turned into a standard textbook-level warning, and people who study the oldest bristlecones refuse to report their locations, to protect them from the Forest Service as well as from common vandals.

    Actually, there are a number of plants that aren't trees that are known to be older, but their living parts are all young. The textbook example is the creosote bush, which sends up offshoots around its edges, and then the central parts die off. This produces "creosote rings" that spread out across the landscape. A few have been found whose oldest remnants are dated to over 11,000 years. But the living parts are only a few centuries old.

    The question "What's the oldest living thing?" turns out to be trickier to answer than you might expect. There are more than one way to define a "living thing", and there are several ways to measure age.

  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Informative)

    by strength_of_10_men (967050) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @10:53AM (#38902905)

    There's a Radiolab episode that covers the story of Prometheus being cut down. Sad story.

    http://www.radiolab.org/2010/jun/28/ [radiolab.org]

Felson's Law: To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.

Working...