Pando, the Single Largest Living Organism on Earth

Nov 18, 2010 9 comments

Pando or The Trembling Giant is an enormous grove of Quaking Aspen that is an entire forest out of a single organism. This colony of a single male Quaking Aspen is located in the Fishlake National Forest in Utah, in the US. Each of 47,000 or so trees in the grove are genetically identical and has been determined to be part of a single living organism all sharing a single massive underground root system. Pando is truly massive – it covers an area of 43 hectares, weighs 6,000 tonnes and is more than 80,000 years old.

pando-trembling-giant (2)

Quaking aspen reproduces via a process called suckering. An individual stem can send out lateral roots that, under the right conditions, send up other erect stems which look just like individual trees but rather clones of single tree.

Pando’s age is often debated. Some experts speculate that less well-studied Quaking Aspens elsewhere in the world could extend more than 80 hectares and be one million years old. Others estimates puts Pando's age closer to 1 million years.

Pando was discovered by Burton V. Barnes of the University of Michigan in the 1970s. Barnes had described Pando as a single organism. In 1992 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development called Pando the world's most massive organism.

pando-trembling-giant (1)

pando-trembling-giant (3)


  1. Love this! I am researching aspen. Cool fact: Aspen clones turn yellow simultaneously during the fall. Different individuals can be differentiated by when they turn colour, as not all aspen individuals turn colour at the same time.

  2. In Prairie Creek, I saw a stand or row of curly redwood that are good evidence that comparable or larger redwood clonal stands may exist, in relation to the Aspen colony. I recall about 6 to 8 big redwoods in the row, likely all connected root to root. Others off to the side may be connected too. That was not related to our tree measuring task, so we just moved on. The clonal stans are a tangent we don't get involved with. Too much forest, too little time. And not much profit from the hunt anyway.

    Wikipedia also makes reference to the observations about aspen germination that dispute the 80,000 year age taken-on-faith by a few experts.


  3. wow thats amazing

  4. Earth is an amazing planet... We must invade it! :)

    1. I find it interesting that they show a picture of the single paved road running through "Pando'...but in fact that is a picture of the road running through another grove of Aspens On "Alpine Loop" above Sundance, N.E. of Provo, UT. and about 100+ miles north of Fish Lake National Forest, "Pando". Been both places, caught trout on Fish Lake,photographed Alpine Loop and loved them equally. Must a been a prettier picture. ha,ha

    2. Been there, rode my bike through, and caught nice trout on Fish Lake. "Pando" is an amazing Being to see. I've also travels over "Alpine Loop" above Sundance, N.E. of Provo Ut., and 100+ miles north of Fish Lake National Forest. I find it interesting that they through in the picture of the one lane road through the Aspens over "Alpine Loop" ...but that picture is not of "Pando". But then again the living "Being" of Aspens on Alpine Loop is also amazing.Go see them both. :)
      Don't miss the Giant Sequoias, the Coastal Redwoods or Bristle Cone Pines in your life's travels though. Also Giants Beings and extremely Old.

  5. I getting kinda of tired of reading titles "largest, tallest, biggest" and then finding another article with the same title but different item
    ie: largest canopy vs largest living organism. Both are claiming that a single tree/forest is the largest, one of them is lying, maybe both.


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