Scientists Clone 'Unclonable' Tree

Critics thought John Muir's famed giant sequoia was too old to clone
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2013 6:03 AM CST
Scientists Clone 'Unclonable' Tree
Giant sequoias, but not John Muir's.   (©)

Big news in the world of horticulture—literally. Scientists have managed to successfully clone a genetic replica of a famed giant sequoia. Three reasons why this is a big deal: The 70-foot tree was planted by John Muir, who had a heavy hand in the founding of Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks; the tree is being ravaged by an airborne fungus; and critics didn't think a tree of this species could be cloned after its 80th birthday, reports the Los Angeles Times. This tree is about 130 years old.

The credit for the feat goes to the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, which has other feathers in its cap: It has also cloned trees planted by George Washington at Mount Vernon. The clone was born in a Michigan lab from one of two dozen cuttings from the tree, which were divided into much smaller pieces and subjected to what Archangel's co-founder describes to Michigan Radio as a "hormone cocktail." Roots have formed, indicating that the cloning worked; the clone needs to grow to a foot-and-a-half in height before it can leave the lab. Once that happens, it'll be put in the ground at Muir's San Francisco-area homestead, hopefully within a year. (Another famed tree that will live on: the one Anne Frank watched from the Secret Annex.)

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