Pando, a single colony of trees that stems from one root system, has been in existence for 80,000 years, dating back to the time when our ancestors all still lived in Africa. You may be surprised by this; however, this is not the only tree colony that has stood the test of time well beyond average human life expectancy.

It has been theorized that plant life may hold the key to immortality and could help humans look and feel younger, or perhaps even live longer. Humans already use plant stem cells in anti-aging creams and burn ointments; but do plants really hold the secret to eternal life?

The Facts

Clonal trees, such as the Pando, have been alive since before humans existed; in fact, some believe trees such as these have lived since the dawn of Earth. But how? The key to this may lie within the structure and longevity of plant cells.

Plant cells differ from animal cells primarily because they are protected by cell walls. Plant cells also have embryonic cells, or seeds, that can last without being pollinated for hundreds of years. Both of these traits allow plants to live much longer than the oldest human. That said, often, a single plant doesn’t necessarily live thousands of years, but clones itself before it dies.

Making a Copy

Karen Micallef, the marketing director at the Michigan Center for Advanced Dentistry, has a particular plant that has been around for generations.

“It was my grandmother’s,” she said. “It had been replanted several times before being passed down to my mother, and then to me.”

Although Micallef’s plant may be identical to the one her grandmother passed down, technically, it’s not the same plant; it’s a clone. Unfortunately, there is no such evidence supporting that plants are quite literally “immortal.” Every living thing eventually expires; however the fact that many plants can be replanted and plant species can regrow from a cutting or another seed makes them scientifically amazing; as most living things cannot duplicate exact replicas of themselves.

Although Micallef’s plant may not be the exact same plant passed down by her grandmother; it is genetically identical, which represents a sort of immortality to her.

“It makes me think of my grandmother,” she said. “It used to be my great-grandmother’s plant, but I didn’t really know her. So more than anything, looking at it triggers memories of my grandmother and being in her sun room as a kid. It always makes me think of her.”

Karen’s grandmother has been immortalized in her mind because of the plant that had been passed down to her; and if she continues to cultivate it, the plant will be passed down to her children, continuing a tradition that has lasted for generations. In the end, although it’s not clear if plants somehow hold the secret to promoting human longevity; they clearly have the power to affect the way we feel.

Shanna Laub writes for Off-Topic Media. Special thanks to Karen Micallef, Marketing Director at The Michigan Center for Advanced Dentistry, a dental practice in the Detroit area that offers services such as cosmetic dentistry. Karen can be reached using the following contact information:

The Michigan Center for Advanced Dentistry
42010 Grand River Ave.
Novi, MI 48375

Filed under: Ageing

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