Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday Weird

Woo Hoo! I'm back from Wiscon 36 and it was awesome! I'll chat all about it later, maybe Monday, but for now, we're back to Wednesday Weird.

On today's Menu:



No not Pandas.


Question? What's the largest living organism on the planet?

No it's not the blue whale, it's Pando.

Pando (Latin for 'I spread'), aka The Trembling Giant is a tree, specifically a single male Quaking Aspen, located in Utah. Sort of (the tree part I mean. Not the Utah part)


All right, let me start with some bio. When the Quaking Aspen reproduces it both flowers and produces a clone of itself. It extends its roots and then forces them up through the ground, producing a new tree. The new tree is a clone, with the same genetic makeup and markers to show that it actually belongs to the first tree.

Similar to how Twin is a clone of me. But don't let her tell you otherwise. That's just clone talk and should be avoided.

So the new tree grows with the old one and together they develop a large root network which produces more and more Quaking Aspens causing the single tree to expand into a clonal colony.

Normally clonal colonies are about 0.1 hectares in size. But not Pando. Oh No. Pando is 43 hectares and weighs about 6,000 tons.


As the trees on the surface die, the root system lives on and shoots up more trees and stops producing nutrients for those that have died. Because of this, Pando is protected from forest fires, which actually help it by killing nearby conifers and providing more space.

Because of this, Pando is, more or less, the Wolverine or Hulk of trees: invulnerable. Pando is estimated to be around 80,000 years old. Which means it was watching mastodons walk around doing mastodon things.

Of course, being that old has some drawbacks, mostly the changing environment. Pando hasn't flowered in over 10,000 years, which means its survival is dependant purely on its cloning ability.

There you have it. Pando. The tree you don't want to mess with.

(shout out to Matt for the Pando push)


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

A group of trees - who knew ?

Anne Ahiers said...

hahah! who decided on the name of Pando? that's awesome

Nate Wilson said...

A massive group of trees that forces its roots up through the ground? Yeah, I've seen The Evil Dead; you're not getting me anywhere near that thing.

Maria Zannini said...

Fascinating. But now I gotta know. How do they know it hasn't flowered in 10,000 years? Do the forest rangers have a 10,000+ year old accountant keeping tabs?

Ref: clones
Has Twin ever said you were the clone? Maybe she just let you exit first. :)

Talli Roland said...

Love the name Pando! I'm a big fan of trees. :)

Matthew MacNish said...

"Similar to how Twin is a clone of me. But don't let her tell you otherwise. That's just clone talk and should be avoided."

I had to stop reading to comment, because I'm laughing so friggin hard.

Matthew MacNish said...

Now as to your post, awesome, BTW. Isn't this a topic I suggested? Even if I didn't, man I love this crap.

Matthew MacNish said...

Hah! I see it now, the pesky tiny font. LOL.

DL Hammons said...

That is truly fascinating!

Happy Hump Day! :)

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I live in Utah. The single biggest organism here is a tree? Who would have thought that there was that much wood in Utah? I guess that makes sense, given the size of families here...that means that guys must be packin' a lot of wood for their wimenz...

Anonymous said...

Frakking amazing.

Johanna Garth said...

Super cool! Even cooler would be pandas in a pando forest!! :)

TL Conway said...

I knew this one! *high fives herself*

I've done all SORTS of research on tress for my WIP. Trying to find the largest single tree, group of trees, oldest tree, etc... you get the idea.

Unknown said...

My guess is that's the stuff that Ents are made from :)

mshatch said...

now that's pretty amazing. And the most interesting thing I learned today. Thanks!

Joan Crawford said...

Wow! This is happy news! I had heard awhile ago about the Oldest Tree being killed (it was like 5,000 years old some other Big Number I can't fully conceptualize) and I was sad. But now I can whisper "Pando... Pando... Pando" at might time to dry my tears*.

*Which is why you'd never want to have me sleep over:
Anne: "Is she still whispering "Pando" over there?"
Sarah: "Don't draw her attention! And yes, it's been 45 minutes already and she just got here an hour ago!"

Elana Johnson said...

This is so true. The aspen is the Borg of trees, as someone I know once said. And they are!

LD Masterson said...

Okay, the pando are impressive but the panda is cuter.

Anne Gallagher said...

This is freaking AWESOME! Who knew? Well, obviously you did. And so thanks for sharing. I need to get me some quaking aspens.

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