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The Trembling Giant
March 3, 2010 5:10 PM   Subscribe

Pando : The Quaking Aspen

A clonal colony thought to weigh 6,000 tons and (possibly) be over 80,000 years old, it might be the oldest and largest living thing on earth. [previously]
posted by quin (30 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I knew that pines would fuse roots in a forest, but I had not heard about this. Wow. Cool. Cool name for it, too.
posted by Xoebe at 5:14 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


As creepy as animals can get, the creepiness available to plants and fungi is exponentially higher. Imagine walking through a forest, noticing the trees all look more or less the same, and suddenly realizing every single tree is part of the same organism. It's not knowledge I would wish on anyone tripping.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:20 PM on March 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Out west, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:29 PM on March 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I love this world.
posted by Max Power at 5:39 PM on March 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not sure if it's really related to this, but it's an awesome song.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:47 PM on March 3, 2010


My brother put an A.A. Bondy album on the last time everyone in my family was back at my folks' house. It was the first time I've ever heard my mom say "sucks".
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:49 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


The exact location of Pando is not easily found; I've asked numerous forest rangers and they swear they don't know (or won't tell).

When I stand amongst a large aspen grove and listen to the leaves quake, I imagine some limbs asking their neighbors to "scratch over here for a minute...lower, lower, a little to the left...ahhhh."

And aspens have spooky eyes as well. Take a look at their trunks the next time you're in the forest and you'll see what I mean. Fabulous trees, those aspens.
posted by PixieS at 6:18 PM on March 3, 2010


Interesting, I was thinking about posting this.
posted by HuronBob at 6:22 PM on March 3, 2010


Vegetative reproduction, FTW!
posted by stinker at 6:46 PM on March 3, 2010


I had a crappy day, so this is just what I needed to read. The world we live in is one gigantic ball of astounding, awe-inspiring WONDER. It puts my speck-of-dust problems in perspective; thanks for a great post!
posted by missmary6 at 7:16 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aw man, I just *love* going out in the Mountain West when the colors are changing. Giant bands of color. Missed it last year due to a weekend class, likely to miss it again this year...damn, man, you've got me worked up...
posted by notsnot at 7:30 PM on March 3, 2010


Which X-files episode was it that featured a giant man-eating fungus in the Pacific North West?
posted by Think_Long at 7:34 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pando? Not Pondo?
posted by gurple at 8:18 PM on March 3, 2010


The exact location of Pando is not easily found; I've asked numerous forest rangers and they swear they don't know (or won't tell).

According to this source (image on page 4, accompanying text on pages 3-4), Pando can be found here.
posted by planet at 8:21 PM on March 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Somebody ate my link!
posted by planet at 8:24 PM on March 3, 2010


Which X-files episode was it that featured a giant man-eating fungus in the Pacific North West?
That would be "Field Trip" from season six.
posted by planet at 8:32 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had intended to post this as obitfilter a couple weeks ago and never got around to it, and now seems as appropriate time as any. Richfield, Utah is the closest town to Pando and it happens to be the birthplace of Fred Morrison, inventor of the frisbee, who died on February 9th, 2010.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:06 PM on March 3, 2010


Oh, and sweet post. Thanks.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:07 PM on March 3, 2010


Well. When you think about it, if you do. We are constantly inhaling organisms that wish to take over our bodies. Bacteria and mycoplasmic organisms. Viruses. The air we breathe is full of them. The only reason that you and I haven't hit the deck and been consumed is because we have suckers in our body the fight them off.

Every moment of every day. Constantly.

That's why I drink and smoke.

They hate that shit.

Come and get me, fuckers!
posted by Splunge at 12:33 AM on March 4, 2010


A long long time ago there was this stupid little organism that managed to breed. One of its descendants is this aspen, another one is a blue whale and another one is you.

Evolution is cool.
posted by dirty lies at 1:48 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that many vegetatively reproducing species seem to be able to hang around for a long time like that. There are some very long-lived huckleberry clones in the eastern US, for example, just slowly migrating through the understory. I'm curious how old the genetics are on some basswoods or other prolific stump-sprouting tree species are.

But still, I'm pretty impressed by an individual tree that can grow to be 5000 years old all by its lonesome.
posted by Red Loop at 4:28 AM on March 4, 2010


This is really very cool.
posted by OmieWise at 5:25 AM on March 4, 2010


A clonal colony thought to weigh 6,000 tons and (possibly) be over 80,000 years old, it might be the oldest and largest living thing on earth.

See also. And also.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:07 AM on March 4, 2010


Quake? Typical US overkill

In England, aspens quiver
posted by IndigoJones at 6:21 AM on March 4, 2010


Hey, thanks, planet! I've been meaning for years to make a hippy pilgrimage to visit Pando, and the only sticking point is that I didn't know exactly where it is.
posted by echo target at 6:21 AM on March 4, 2010


It's not knowledge I would wish on anyone tripping.

On a sunny day with your friends and a clear conscience, though.
posted by chrillsicka at 7:28 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some of my favourite trails in the montane portions of Banff feature long bands of aspens surrounded by acres of pine, they are so isolated that you always wonder how they got there. I've always known they were clones (erm a clone) but this article really fleshes out the details.

There's a stand of them up in Jasper twice as thick and twice as tall as any I've ever seen elsewhere.
posted by furtive at 7:43 AM on March 4, 2010


I for one welcome our new trembling overlords.
posted by No Robots at 7:51 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


More links here.
posted by homunculus at 8:55 AM on March 5, 2010


Since I was a little kid, I've called them 'rain trees', because of the sound of the quaking leaves. I would that this post had come at a better time of year, as it has left me with a desire to be amongst leafed trees, growing with no plan but their own. A bit too early.
posted by Goofyy at 8:53 PM on March 5, 2010


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