Species of Bristlecone Pine
There are three species of Bristlecone Pine, all of which are native to the American Southwest:
- Rocky Mountain Bristlecone Pine (Pinus aristata): Colorado, New Mexico, and a small area in Arizona
- Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva): Utah, Nevada, eastern California
- Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana): California
Bristlecone Pine Habitat
All three species grow at high elevations, usually between 7000 and 13000 feet above sea level. The oldest Great Basin Bristlecone is an estimated 5066 years old, making it the oldest living individual tree on Earth.
Bristlecones have an incredibly slow growth rate. The Maple tree in your front yard might grow an inch in diameter every year but a Bristlecone takes over a century to grow the same amount.
Perhaps the best way to see a Bristlecone Pine is to visit the Mt Goliath Natural Area on Mt Evans road in Colorado. It boasts several groves of Rocky Mountain Bristlecones, a pleasant walking trail, a nature center, and an incredible view of the Denver Basin as well. Here one can see the resin flecks on the needles that are diagnostic of Pinus aristata. It is the only Pinus species in the world that has resin flecks.