Ancient Pine Cone Seeds Replenish World's Oldest Trees

Ancient Pine Cone Seeds Replenish World's Oldest TreesREDDING, CA - Efforts by Sierra Pacific Industries to expand groves of Giant Sequoia conifers continue. The forest products and millwork company, which is also California's largest land owner, has planted tens of thousands of seeds from the ancient trees' pine cones.

Sierra Pacific began its efforts in 2009  when it pledged to conserve 20,000 Giant Sequoias in perpetuity.  Now it has 130,000 Giant Sequoia seedlings in the ground. The hearty trees are able to survive forest fires pretty well, given they have an 8-inch thick coating of bark.

Dropping needles to combat California's drought, the Giant Sequoias - some nearly 3,000 years old - face heightened risk from forest fires during this latest period of lower-than-normal rainfall. California is suffering from one of its worst droughts ever, which has sliced away $1 billion from its farm produce output.

Despite their limited use for lumber, Sierra Pacific Industries eventually aims to plant 1.4 million Giant Sequoias, reports the New York Times.

Michigan-based Archangel Project is taking a slightly different tack - cloning trees rather than planting seedlings. It has established 14 separate genotypes of old growth Giant Sequoias and successfully put roots on cuttings from the ancient Alonzo Stagg Tree, the fifth largest tree in the world, and the Waterfall Tree, which has the largest circumference at ground level of any living tree.

Another program has been launched to save even older bristlecone pines in the arid Southwest U.S. states.


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