Saturday, December 17, 2005

Yet Another DC Christmas Tree

From The Washington Times:

The National Cathedral will celebrate the holidays this year with an unusual Christmas tree: a pine seedling whose parent is said to be the oldest known tree on earth.

The seedling is a gift from the Champion Tree Project International. It breeds and clones the world's oldest and largest trees in hopes of compiling a living archive of the genes that give them their longevity.

"It's older than the great pyramids, older than Stonehenge," project President David Milarch said of the 4,770-year-old "Methuselah" bristlecone pine whose cone bore the seedling the cathedral will receive. "When Christ walked the earth, it was already 2,700 years old."

The Methuselah pine grows at an altitude of 10,000 feet in the White Mountains near the California-Nevada border.

It gets its name from a Hebrew patriarch mentioned in Genesis who was supposed to have lived for 969 years, making him the embodiment of longevity.

Just to be clear though, this tree isn't a clone, that's just one of the things CTPI does.

Mr. Milarch said project participants got special permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service to collect cones from Methuselah, one of which yielded the National Cathedral's seedling.

"That's pretty good for a 5,000-year-old tree to be able to reproduce itself," Mr. Milarch said.

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