Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Creature 98: Larrea tridentata

The oldest living thing on earth.
 Larrea tridentata is a unimpressive looking desert bush which has many common names such as cresote bush, greasewood and gobernodora.

Cresote bush is technically the oldest living thing on Earth. When the plant gets to 30 to 90 years old its branches begin to die. At that point the plant splits in two and the old plant dies off as its clone lives on. The clonal colonies form rings of bushes. Individual bushes can grow up to 4 m tall, but usually don't grow more than 2 m tall. The oldest known specimen is known as king clown which lives in the Mojave Desert and is believed to be 11,700 years old. It is a ring of clonal bushes, the largest of which is 20 m in diameter.

These bushes are normally found with no other plants in the immediate vicinity due to its incredibly efficient systems for collecting water, which will starve other plants of access to water. The plant was used by native Americans as a herbal medicine.

Cresote bush is found in the Western Deserts of North America.

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Angiosperms
Class: Dicotyledon
Order: Zygophyllales
Family: Zygophyllaceae
Genus: Larrea
Species: Larrea tridentata

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