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.