Blown by wind, and ravaged by time, the Bristlecone pine tree is a silent sentinel of the White Mountains in eastern central California. Only growing high in subapline mountains, Bristlecone pine trees are among the oldest living organisms, reaching ages of 5000 years old, with on specimen being documented at 5,067 years old by Tom Harlan who aged the tree by ring count. That calculation confirms this one individual tree to be the oldest living non-clonal organism on the planet.
The Bristlecone pine groves are found between 5,600 and 11,200 ft of elevation on mountain slopes with dolomitic coils. This harsh alkaline soil gives the Bristlecone a competitive advantage because over plants and tree are unable to grow. The trees grow very slowly due cold temperatures, arid soil, wind and short growing seasons.