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Along the Black River in North Carolina, bald cypress trees have been quietly growing for millennia. Quite literally so: Scientists recently found trees over 2,000 years old - including one that is at least 2,624 years old.
Another nearby tree was found to be 2,088 years old - and geoscientists believe that more bald cypresses (Taxodium distichum) in the Three Sisters Swamp could be the same age or even older.
Trees - Black - River - Geoscientist - David
"There are surely multiple over 2,000-year-old trees at Black River," geoscientist David Stahle of the University of Aransas told The Charlotte Observer.
"It's my belief there are some approaching, if not exceeding, 3,000 years old."
Decades - Trees - Region - Stahle - Colleagues
It has been known for decades that some of the trees in the region are ancient. In the 1980s, Stahle and colleagues discovered trees up to 1,700 years old. This led to the private purchase of 16,000 acres by the North Carolina Nature Conservancy to help protect these stately plants.
But this new discovery significantly pushes back the known age of the trees by nearly a millennium.
Area - Wetland - Research - Team
It was made in an area of wetland not previously visited by the research team.
Using a sampling tool known as an increment borer that does no lasting harm to the trees, the researchers can take a core sample that allows them to count the tree's rings - the ones made by annual growth layers. These samples can be complicated by core rot, resulting in trees that are hollow in the middle, so the team selected trees that are solid all the way through.
Tree - BLK227 - Years - Seedling - Sapling
Surprisingly, a tree named BLK227 was found to be at least 2,624 years old. That makes it a seedling or sapling in 605 BCE - a timeframe that predates the Roman Empire by centuries, and the year Nebuchadnezzar II ascended to the throne of Babylon.
Another tree, BLK232, was 2,088 years old -...
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