Explore the Methuselah Grove Patriarch Tree
Click and drag on the image below, and see also the accompanying text.
The best known ancient bristlecone pine groves in the White Mountains lie at
about 10,000 feet, but the Patriarch Grove is higher still, at over 11,000 feet. The
ground between the trees in the grove is barren and so are the surrounding
mountain slopes, in contrast to the sagebrush and mountain mahogany around the
other groves. Also, whereas the other groves are mostly on very steep slopes,
the main part of the Patriarch Grove is flat, a small benchland at the head of
an east-side canyon. These factors combine to give the Patriarch Grove a very
different ambiance than the more commonly seen groves farther south.
The Patriarch Tree is recognized as the largest bristlecone pine anywhere.
Though only 41 feet tall, it is massive, with a fluted, multiple trunk 36 feet
in circumference. There is a suspicion, however, that it may actually be two or
more trees grown together. [Editor's note: To get a sense of scale, see the author
standing by the Patriarch's trunk.]
A steep mountainside rises just to the south of the Patriarch Grove, with a
"dead" grove of fallen and eroded snags, polished and grooved by the winter
winds and snows. This is taken as evidence that the climate was milder at one
time in the last few thousand years, allowing the pines to grow a few hundred
feet higher. Under present conditions no bristlecones grow higher than the