Bristlecone pines can survive for thousands of years in harsh environments by shutting down non-essential processes.

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.


"Some of the bristlecone pines found in the White mountains of California are over 4500 years old

"Bristlecone pines receive very little water and food throughout the yearand 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)

See the world's oldest organisms

Great Basin Bristlecone PinePinus longaevaSpecies