1,400-year-old Ginkgo tree creates an ocean of golden leaves in the fall
It's a treasure that outlived emperors, conquerors, seasons, and kings.
Elijah Chan

Nature never ceases to be spectacular.

Nestled quietly in the Zhongnan Mountains, a tree watches over the temple grounds of the Gu Guanyin Buddhist Temple. In its quiet vigil, no one could ever guess the tree’s age.

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At the base of this thousand-year-old tree, when the season folds into a new one, the ginkgo tree covers the grounds with its golden leaves. This amber carpet shimmers in the sun, treating visitors with a spectacular sight.

This ginkgo tree is over 1,400 years old.

Just to give you a bit of a perspective, the tree lived through two world wars, the creation of modern Europe, and the creation of the United States of America.

It witnessed the first time electricity was used and saw us evolve from scroll-reading communities to smartphone-addicted civilizations.

The tree was said to be planted by an emperor.

Emperor Li Shimin, the second dynastic ruler of the Tang Dynasty, was said to plant the tree. The emperor ruled from 629 to 649.

Even if the story seemed apocryphal at best, the tree is still as legendary because of its significance. It is also described to be a living fossil as it is the sole survivor of an ancient family of trees that is older than the dinosaurs themselves.

But how can a living organism live to this age?

According to the Smithsonian, the trees don’t decline as much as years pass, unlike humans and animals. The trees continue to produce protective chemicals to maintain the integrity of their structures.

A ginkgo tree’s immune system is even determined to be aged 20-years-old even if it’s over a thousand years old. The trees, basically, are programmed from a cellular level to live forever. If placed side by side with a fully mature ginkgo tree, it is evident that a millennium-old ginkgo produces the same amount of leaves and seeds.

Living forever isn’t the same as immortality, however. If left to their own devices, the trees can definitely live for an indefinite amount of time. This life can be short-lived though because of drought, pests, and being felled.

Surprisingly, though, this age isn’t as lonely as people think.

Besides ginkgo trees that are endemic to East Asia, redwoods of the west can also live through an amazing amount of years.

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The Pinus longaeva from California’s White Mountains currently holds the title of the oldest tree in the world. The tree is aptly named Methuselah, after the longest-living person in the bible.

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The tree’s age? A whopping 4,854 years old. To put that in perspective, the tree sprouted 2,000 years before the world’s first Christmas and witnessed the rise and fall of the Middle and New Kingdoms of Egypt.

Nature, indeed, is something else entirely.

The temple sees thousands of tourists every year, especially at the start of autumn. To witness this breathtaking event, tourists need to register their visit to the temple’s messaging account.

Photographers are also required to register if they want to take photos of the tree. The tree alone brings in 3,000 tourists every day.

Will you pay a visit to one of the oldest trees in the world?

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