ADVERTISEMENT
See Inside Scientific American Volume 308, Issue 3

Palms May Be the Oldest Living Trees




FROM “CELL LONGEVITY AND SUSTAINED PRIMARY GROWTH IN PALM STEMS,“ BY P. BARRY TOMLINSON AND BRETT A. HUGGETT, IN AMERICAN JOURNAL OF BOTANY, VOL. 99, NO. 12; DECEMBER 2012

Ever green: Pine trees, which can grow for thousands of years, are the oldest living trees. But scientists are learning that palms can be even older—at least at the cellular level. A recent American Journal of Botany paper explains that conventional trees experience a secondary growth phase—replacing functional tissues with younger cells—but palm trees do not. The individual cells in a palm, seen in this micrograph of the genus Veitchia, endure throughout the tree's life span, which can range from 100 to 740 years.

This 1.5-millimeter-wide cross section of a vascular bundle (green and red center) is responsible for transporting water, minerals and nutrients through the trunk. Thousands of these bundles are found in every level of the palm and continuously work to sustain its growth.

This article was originally published with the title "What Is It?."

Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
Scientific American MIND iPad

Give a Gift & Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription as low as $14.99

Subscribe Now >>

X

Email this Article

X