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Frequently Asked Questions

Part 1: Pando, The World's Largest Tree

Q & A

About

What is Pando?

Pando is the world’s largest tree

How did we discover Pando?

Even though people have used the area around Pando for agriculture, commerce, hunting and as a summer retreat for at least 1,500 years, it wasn’t recognized for what it was until 1976 when aspen ecologists Burton Barnes and Jerry Kemperman noticed the outline of the tree as they worked in the Fishlake basin. 

Source: Research paper describing a large aspen clone (later named Pando) in Fishlake Basin

Where is the Pando Tree?

Pando is in Fishlake National Forest in Utah south central Utah.

Size

What does the word "Pando" mean and why would someone name a tree that?

The word “pando”, is Latin for “I spread”.  The aspen tree was given the nickname “Pando” by scientist Michael Grant in a 1992 article in Discover Magazine because of how it “spreads out” across 106 acres. Although Grant was not the one to discover the tree, most found the name creative and appropriate, so the name stuck. 

Source: Article where the giant tree was named

How big is Pando?

Pando spans 106-acres and weighs over13.2 Million Pounds.

I thought the General Sherman Tree, a Redwood, was the largest tree?

No. Redwoods are the tallest growing trees and can be quite heavy. Pando weighs more than the largest redwood and covers over 100 times the land mass. While some argue the General Sherman Tree is the largest “single stem” tree, Redwood trees like the General Sherman can also reproduce as Pando does, by cloning.

What makes Pando the largest tree?

Multiple measurements.

  1. Pando is the largest Tree by weight: 13.2 Million Pounds (3-5 times the weight of largest Redwood tree).
  2. Pando is the largest Tree by species. Pando is the largest aspen tree (Populus Tremuloides).
  3. Pando is the largest Tree by land mass. Pando spans 106 acres, larger than any other tree.

No other tree is larger than Pando in any one of the ways described above, let alone all three.

How do we know Pando is the worlds largest tree?

Genetic Testing.

Between 2006 and 2008 researchers from the US Forest Service worked with independent researchers who gathered materials for genetic testing and proved Pando was a single tree in 2008.

Source:* Read the paper that proved Pando’s size. 

Longevity

How old is Pando?

Based on geologic records and charcoal studies, Pando is believed to have been self replicating at least 9,000 years.

But I heard Pando is 80,000 year old...?

We know that Pando cannot be older than 9,000 to 12,000 years old because glaciers in the area would have made the area too cold and inhospitable for the tree to settle in. 

Biology

What species of tree is the Pando?

Pando is an aspen tree, species Populus temuloides.

Does Pando have one trunk, like a tree in my yard?

No. Pando is made up of over 40,000 branches that at first glance, look like individual tree trunks, but are in fact, genetically identical parts of a single tree connected by a massive root system.

I've often heard Pando is a "clone" tree? What does that mean?​

When we say Pando is a “clone” tree, it simply means that Pando reproduces by self-replicating. That is, each new part is genetically identical to the next.

Because Pando is a clone, does that mean it is not a single tree?

No. Generally speaking, Pando still behaves like a single tree working to gather and distribute energy, reproduce and manage defenses just as one tree does. Its leaves come out and change colors at the same time across the tree, a process that takes weeks because it is so large.

Since Pando is a clone, does that mean it is not the "World's Largest Tree"?

No. Many trees reproduce by cloning in North America including Beech, Apple, Redwood (Coastal and Gigantic), Alder, and Oak as well as Aspen.

Is it better to think about and treat Pando as a Single Tree or, as a Clone?

Actually Both. In many ways, work to understand and protect the tree, requires us to think of Pando as a single tree or single subject. Conversely, scientists tend to focus on the fact Pando is a clone, because there are some things about clone trees that can be studied differently.

Friends of Pando is dedicated and working to educate the public, support research and preservation efforts and inspire stewardship of Pando, the world’s largest tree.

 

Friends of Pando is a proud partner of Pando’s public land stewards, Fishlake National Forest of the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture. Learn more about our partnership.

 

Friends of Pando and its partners are equal opportunity employers.

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Just $14 a month supports work to ensure Pando can be enjoyed for generations to come. Make a one-time or, recurring tax deductible donation today.

Friends of Pando
PO Box 12
Richfield, UT, 84701
Phone: 435-633-1893
IRS EIN: 87-3958681