Trees and the Age of the Earth

There are no trees older than 4400 years, says one of my readers. Is this evidence for a young earth and a global flood?

Why are there no trees more than 4400 years old? For the same reason that there are no people more than 115 years old. Living things have life spans, even if in the case of trees they can span millennia.

It's not true, either. There is a colony of cloned trees, sharing the same roots, that is 80,000 years old.

For example, the Pando, or "trembling giant," is a clonal colony of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) estimated to be an astounding 80,000 years old. It is located in Fishlake National Forest in south-central Utah. (Live Science, accessed 12/13/2013)

FallPando02

Pando, the Trembling Giant

Live Science's conclusion may be a bit hasty. Discover Magazine published an article by a scientist who studies the aspens. He says ...

The oldest clone with a firm age is an 11,700-year-old creosote bush (researchers were able to date it by measuring the rate at which its circle expands). But aspens may actually be far older.

Discover adds:

Burton Barnes of the University of Michigan has suggested that aspen clones in the western United States may reach the age of a million years or more. In principle, clones may even be essentially immortal, dying only from disease or the deterioration of the environment rather than from some internal clock.

So while the exact date is unknown, there are trees and bushes much older than 4,400 years.

The only way that a 4400-year-old tree, even if it were the oldest, could be evidence of a global flood that destroyed all previous trees or evidence of a young earth, is if there were many trees of almost exactly the same age. Otherwise, the oldest tree is evidence for nothing except that the life span of trees is longer that the life span of most other life forms.

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