Monday, September 19, 2016

Behold Pando, the Trembling Giant!

Utah Has a Forest Full of Golden Clones

Slate  by Ella Morton  May 6 2014

Photo: Mark Muir/Forest Service, USDA

This golden grove of quaking aspens, named after the Latin word for "spread out," is located in Fishlake National Forest, Utah. Though it looks like a forest, the whole thing is actually a single organism. Every tree — or stem, technically — is genetically identical, and the whole forest is linked by a single root system. Pando's aspens reproduce asexually by sprouting new stems from the root structure.

With over 40,000 stems and a weight of 13 million pounds, the Pando clonal colony is the heaviest known organism in the world. It's also among the oldest living things on the planet — the root system is an estimated 80,000 years old.

Photo: J Zapell/Public Domain

Photo: Scott Catron/Creative Commons

Ella Morton is a writer working on The Atlas Obscura, a book about global wonders, curiosities, and esoterica adapted from Atlas Obscura. Follow her on Twitter.

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