In South-central Utah (my home state) there is a quaking aspen tree (Populus tremuloides) which has been given the name “Pando” meaning, “I spread” in Latin.
Pando is the heaviest known organism on the planet, weighing in at an astounding estimate of 6,600 tons. Covering (107) acres, and sporting around (47,000) stems. The stem’s are an average age of (130) years old based on tree ring research.
Pando is also among the oldest known living organisms, most experts agree at an age of 80,000 years. An amazing period of time for a single plant to live. If the age estimate is correct, Pando was a seedling around 76,000 years before the pyramid of Cheops was built in Egypt.
The quaking aspen can reproduce using a process called suckering. An individual stem can send out lateral roots which, send up other erect stems. From all above-ground appearances, the new stems look just like individual trees, but are connected, and genetically identical. This process is repeated until a whole stand of multiple stems, called ramets, all form a single individual, which is usually called a clone.
Biologists believe there could be older, and larger quaking aspen stands that have yet to be discovered and researched. Some biologists believe that western stands of aspen could be as much as one million years old.
Photo Credit: Conservation Report