The oldest living plant is currently in danger. The King’s Holly is only able to be found in one place in the world, a 1.2km stretch of Tasmania, and if it dies it will likely be gone forever. Botanists are now working tirelessly to ensure that it doesn’t happen and that the oldest plant in the world is able to see many more years.
The King’s Holly is the oldest plant in the world for a very strange reason, it is a clone. The plant grows like no other. While other pants leave seeds behind that sprout into new plants, the King’s Holly does not. Instead, if a branch falls off this tree it digs new roots in the soil and starts to grow like new. The plant is, therefore, the same as the one the branch came off. Instead of sprouting a new plant it just goes through a typical plant life cycle again and again, on its own.
This means that the whole species is technically just one plant and that plant is thousands of years old. Botanists have been able to date the plant back to over 43,000 years making it the oldest plant in the world. The DNA has never changed over this time.
Botanists have been trying to save the plant since the 90s but have struggled to adapt to the way it grows. Every time they re-pot the plant over 50% of them die. They have now arrived at a new method of conservation where they will plant it with other plants so that it can take advantage of a strong root network. Whether this will be successful remains to be seen.
While the age of this plant is simply incredible what is truly remarkable is how it spreads and grows. The King’s Holly plant needs to be saved so that it can remain a part of history and so that it can be a standout example of a very unique method of growth.