Intermountain Bristlecone Pine - Pinus longaeva
Distinctive for its twisted trunk and gnarled branches, short stiff needles, with a potential age of nearly 5,000 years this pine is potentially one of the oldest organisms on the planet. It achieves such longevity at high elevations, growing above 11,000 feet in desert mountains. The needles are also long-lived; they are borne 5 to a bundles and are scarcely more than an inch in length. The cones are 4 inches long and speckled with resin: they have stiff scales and prickles. The trees can survive in the harshest environments on poor soils, but cannot compete well with other species.