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World's Largest Plants / Flora

EnolaGaia

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(Copied from the World's Oldest Trees thread.) The 'Pando' quaking aspen clonal tree / forest is one of the contenders for the world's largest organism.)
The oldest living thing on Earth

... In Fishlake National Park in Utah in the US lives a quaking aspen tree that most people would struggle to see as "a tree".

It's a clonal tree called "Pando", from the Latin meaning "I spread", and for good reason.

It is so large that it is easy to mistake for a forest. However, Pando, despite being the size of Vatican City, has all sprung from one seed, and, over the years, has grown a single vast rootstock supporting an estimated 50,000 tree trunks. Accurately estimating how many years is problematic, says population geneticist Prof Karen Mock from Utah State University, who works on the aspen.

"There have been all kinds of different estimates but the original tree is almost certainly not there," he told the BBC.

Clonal trees grow in all directions and regenerate themselves as they go. This means taking a core from a trunk will not give you the age of the whole tree.
Scientists try to get around this problem by equating size to age. It's an inaccurate process and Pando's estimated age ranges from a few thousand to 80,000 years old. ...
FULL STORY: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-40224991
 
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Min Bannister

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This is pretty mind blowing. The plant is a sea grass and covers 77 square miles. Those interesting in amusing measurement equivalents will note that the article also describes it as "three times the size of Manhattan" and "20,000 football fields".

The team stumbled upon the discovery by accident at Shark Bay, about 800km north of Perth.
They had set out to understand the genetic diversity of the species - also known as ribbon weed - which is commonly found along parts of Australia's coast.
Researchers collected shoots from across the bay and examined 18,000 genetic markers to create a "fingerprint" from each sample.
They had aimed to discover how many plants made up the meadow.
"The answer blew us away - there was just one!" said Jane Edgeloe, the study's lead author.
"That's it, just one plant has expanded over 180km in Shark Bay, making it the largest known plant on Earth."

More information about it at the link

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-61655327

Also, kudos to the team for taking plant samples in a place called "Shark Bay". :eek:
 

EnolaGaia

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Here's the Wikipedia entry for Pando (the giant clonal aspen organism / grove in Utah).

Pando (Latin for "I spread"), also known as The Trembling Giant, ... is a clonal colony of an individual male quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) determined to be a single living organism by identical genetic markers and assumed to have one massive underground root system. The plant is located in the Fremont River Ranger District of the Fishlake National Forest at the western edge of the Colorado Plateau in south-central Utah, United States, around 1 mile (1.6 km) southwest of Fish Lake. Pando occupies 108 acres (43.6 ha) and is estimated to weigh collectively 6,000 tonnes (6,000,000 kg), making it the heaviest known organism. The root system of Pando is estimated to be up to several thousand years old, placing Pando among the oldest known living organisms. ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pando_(tree)
 
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EnolaGaia

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This new Smithsonian Magazine article describes a visit to Pando and the current project to photograph the entire organism and make it available for study online.
The World’s Largest Tree Is Ready for Its Close-Up

Friends of Pando, a nonprofit, is in the process of creating the largest image ever recorded of this single aspen clone in Utah ...

Known as the “Trembling Giant,” Pando is more than just your average arbor. Widely considered the world’s largest tree with one vast root system, the aspen clone is also one of the largest living organisms on the planet. Spanning roughly 106 acres within Fishlake National Forest, a sprawling patch of greenery situated in the High Plateaus of south-central Utah, Pando weighs more than 6,600 tons and contains approximately 47,000 genetically identical stems (or branches), experts say. ...

Pando, which in Latin translates to “I spread,” is so massive that satellite imagery shows the outline of the clone in stark contrast with the rest of the surrounding national forest; its complex network of roots is so vast that it tunnels beneath Utah State Route 25, a winding two-lane highway that slices through Pando’s center.

Its superlatives and sheer grandeur have also forced it into the spotlight, particularly by the news media, which in recent years has spilled plenty of ink (both digital and otherwise) about Pando and the possibility that it’s dying—although no one knows for certain how or why or if that’s even the case. Some scientists suggest deer and bark beetles ... , while others blame old age. (No one knows Pando’s exact age, with some estimates dating it to the end of the last ice age, or about 25,000 years ago, and others going as far back as 80,000 years.) And yet, no two sources reach a consensus about Pando’s fate and whether this magnificent organism really is knocking on death’s door. ...

Seeking the truth about this elusive giant led me to Lance Oditt, the founder and executive director of Friends of Pando, a nonprofit that’s been educating the public about Pando while also supporting research and preservation of the aspen since 2019. ...

Over the past two summers, he and a team of volunteers have taken on the arduous task of photographing every square inch of Pando. Called the Pando Photographic Survey, the project involves using a range of 360-degree cameras (think Google Street View, but minus cars) and traveling on foot to capture the aspen’s more than 100 acres. Once the photographic survey goes live early next year, it will be the largest photographic record of the tree, containing thousands of photographs stitched together, and will allow anyone with an internet connection free access to explore Pando virtually. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/inno...est-tree-is-ready-for-its-close-up-180981128/
 

EnolaGaia

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Here are the bibliographic details and abstract from the 1976 study that identified Pando as a single clonal organism.

Jerry A. Kemperman and Burton V. Barnes.
Clone size in American aspens.
Canadian Journal of Botany. 54(22): 2603-2607.
https://doi.org/10.1139/b76-280

Abstract
The area of two clones of Populus tremuloides Michaux in the Fish Lake Basin, Sevier County, Utah, was determined using aerial photographs combined with ground delineation using leaf, bark, and stem characteristics. The clones occupied 24.9 acres (10.1 ha) and 106.8 acres (43.3 ha) and contained about 15 000 and 47 000 ramets, respectively. Other clones up to an estimated 200 acres (81.0 ha) were observed in the vicinity and in other areas of the central and southern Rocky Mountains. In contrast, the largest P. tremuloides clone in eastern North America whose boundary has been verified was 3.8 acres (1.5 ha). Populus tremuloides and P. grandidentata Michaux clones of eastern North America are generally small, typically less than 0.1 acres (0.04 ha) in size. The large size of many western clones is probably due to the establishment of few seedlings, periodic fires promoting suckering, expansion over a long time period, and little competition with conifers or other vegetation. Small size of most eastern North American clones and lack of large clones are probably due to establishment of many seedlings per unit area, competition among clones and with other more shade-tolerant vegetation, and their relatively young age.

SOURCE: https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/10.1139/b76-280
 
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