Bristlecone pines survive for thousands of years in an environment with little rainfall, few nutrients, cold temperatures and high elevations by shutting down all non-essential processes and focusing energy on long-term survival rather than growth.
"Bristlecone pines receive very little water and food throughout the year…and the trees stand on dolomite, a form of limestone that contains few nutrients.
"To survive on this ascetic diet, Pinus longaeva invests very little energy in growth…
"'It shuts down all its non-essential processes,' says Sussman. 'This looks half dead most of the time, perhaps with just one branch that appears to be alive.'" (NewScientist 2010)