Bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata)

North of Music Building Map

This insignificant little tree - almost a bush - is perched on the wall marking the western edge of Music Plaza. It is the last of several planted there originally. All the others have died, which (except to extreme tree enthusiasts) is probably for the best; otherwise, there would be no way to enjoy the view across Bellingham Bay to the San Juan Islands.

Insignificant thought it certainly is, this little tree has several interesting characteristics. For example, if you were somehow to return to WWU a century from now - and if this little tree had not succumbed to architectural progress - it would still be here, and it would still be insignificant! This is because the bristlecone pine is one of the slowest growing trees in the world. And at that advanced date the tree would still be an infant; bristlecone pines from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and New Mexico are known to be over 2000 years old. A variant of our bristlecone pine, known as the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva) holds the world's longevity record; specimens in eastern California, Nevada and Utah have been dated at more than 4800 years.