Los Angeles, CA (November 5, 2013) – Horticulturists have successfully cloned a genetic replica of an ailing 130-year-old giant sequoia planted by conservationist John Muir in the 1880s on his ranch in Martinez, CA. When the tree reaches about 18 inches tall, it will be shipped from a Michigan laboratory to California for planting at the John Muir National Historic Site. Once rooted, it will grow several feet each year.
John Muir, a naturalist and conservation advocate, founded the Sierra Club in 1892 in San Francisco. Muir returned from a trip to the Sierra Nevada with the original sequoia seedling wrapped in a damp handkerchief, and he planted the specimen on his family’s fruit ranch. Today, that sequoia is 70 feet tall, but it is dying of an airborne fungus. According to David Milarch, co-founder of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, this tree is last living witness to Muir’s life.
This clone of Muir’s sequoia is part of an ongoing effort to create clones of ancient redwoods and sequoia trees. As we reported late last year, the resiliency and ability of California’s giant redwood and sequoia trees to pull carbon from an increasingly warming atmosphere make them worthy of intensive protections. To help do that, Archangel Ancient Tree Archive has planted 250 clones carrying an exact genetic copy from 18 of some of the world’s biggest redwoods and giant sequoias near the Oregon California border hoping to foster a new grove.
To help preserve a living connection with Muir at the site, Keith Park, a National Park Service horticulturist, trimmed two dozen cuttings from healthy young branches and shipped them to Archangel, which has also successfully cloned trees planted by George Washington at Mount Vernon.
Jake Milarch, an archive propagator and David Milarch’s son, snipped the cuttings into 400 smaller pieces and treated them with an experimental combination of misters, artificial sunlight, nutrients, four hormones and a temperature of 74 degrees in the nonprofit group’s laboratory in Copemish, MI.
Source: “Giant Sequoia Planted by John Muir is Cloned,” Los Angeles Times