Bacteria found to be 250 million years old were located in ancient sea salt beneath Carlsbad, New Mexico. Because you asked this question in ‘Forests’, though, the oldest plant is known as King’s Holly, found in the rainforests of Tasmania. It is estimated to be over 43,000 years old.
In 2008 there was a discovery in Sweden of a 9,550 year old Norway Spruce. They say that although the visible portion of the tree has a life cycle of 600 years, that radiocarbon dating has placed the age of the roots of this specimen at 9,550 years. The roots continually reproduce and sprout trees, therefore the visible tree may die off over 600 years, but the existing root system will continue to thrive.
In the case of the King’s Holly, scientists say that it is by far the oldest known plant clone. This is slightly different in that the whole plant structure will die off every 300 or so years, and upon dying will fall and lay new suckers to produce an identical form, thus cloning itself, and “is still theoretically, the same plant.” They believe that there is no genetic diversity within it’s population, and thus King’s Holly is in fact a clone of the original species. Cool.
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