Bristlecone pines are tough customers. They grow where nothing else will and last for centuries. In fact, a Great Basin bristlecone pine in California’s White Mountains has been calculated as being 5,067 years old, making it the oldest known individual tree on earth. Clonal colonies of plants and microorganisms can last for 10,000 or more years—the Pando colony of quaking aspens in Utah, for example—but when it comes to individual organisms, the bristlecone is champ.
If you’re looking for a shade tree that a Denver city forester once described as being tough as a junkyard dog, take a look at the chinkapin oak. Sometimes spelled chinquapin, it’s a stately medium-size tree with a rounded canopy that’s native to the central midwestern US as far west as central Kansas and south into northeastern Mexico.