Bristlecone – Integrity
Genus: Pinus – Family: Pinaceae
Bristlecone pine reminds us that the ancient laws of truth and justice are at work in our lives. If the decisions we make now are based on truth, they will stand the test of time.
Trees are natural truth tellers, who record their stories in concentric tree rings. The Sanskrit word daru and the Anglo-Saxon word treo mean tree and truth. For every year a tree lives it records climatic events ranging from volcanic activity to nuclear tests. The oldest living trees on earth are Great Basin bristlecone pines, Pinus longaeva. They live in the high-elevation mountains of Utah, Nevada and California.
The oldest living recorded tree is a bristlecone pine in Inyo National Park named Methuselah. It’s germination date (birthdate) is 2833 BCE, making it over 4850 years old. The Hebrew name Methuselah is synonymous with longevity.
In 1964 the U.S. Forest Service allowed a bristlecone pine, named Prometheus, to be cut down in order to examine the rings within its cross-section. Prometheus was found to be 4,847 years old. Its growth rings provided valuable information that verified the emerging sciences of carbon dating and climatology. In Greek mythology, Prometheus is the Titan deity who brought the wisdom of fire to humans, fire is symbolic of knowledge. Ironically bristlecone pines are very vulnerable to fire, but because they live in harsh conditions where high winds and freezing temperatures protect them from wild fires.
Bristlecone pines grow in a unique and twisted fashion because their exposed wood erodes like stone that creates eerily sculptural forms. Bristlecone pines can remain erect for thousands of years, even after death. This natural phenomenon provided scientists with a continual 9,000-year-long record that helped them understand the long-term patterns of earth’s climate. By reading the rings recorded in both living and dead trees, the truth of climate change is able to be seen.
The highly desired wood of bristlecone pine is extremely durable, dense, resinous, and resistant to insects and fungi. Cutting or gathering its wood is prohibited. There are only three species of Bristlecone pine. Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva), Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata) and Foxtail pine (Pinus balfouriana). All three are long-lived and resilient to harsh weather and bad soil. The name “bristlecone” is based on the prickles found on purple female cones.
Message: Bristlecone pine reminds us to be a person of integrity and truth. This may signal a time of making a decision that has long-term implications. It is important to be honest with our self and others by searching our soul, understanding the facts and weighing all options fairly. By being true to our self we can endure any hardship that may result from speaking our truth. Our truth and our actions will be the legacy we leave for future generations.
Challenge: Having a self-righteous attitude, being a know it all who may also be prejudiced towards others. Being judgmental or feeling entitled. Another attribute may be extreme shyness. Bristlecone reminds us to slow down and be present now.
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