A team of arborists has successfully cloned and grown saplings from the stumps of some of the world’s oldest and largest coast redwoods, some of which were 3,000 years old and measured 35 feet in diameter when they were cut down in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Today, giant stumps of ancient redwoods dot the landscape from Oregon to northern California, reminders of the old-growth forest that used to stretch across the Pacific Northwest. Many arborists assumed these stumps were dead, but Milarch and his son, Jake, discovered living tissue growing from the trees’ roots, material known as baseless or stump sprouts. The Milarchs collected DNA from stumps of five giant coast redwoods, all larger than the largest tree living today. These included a giant sequoia known as General Sherman with a 25-foot diameter.
They then used this genetic material to grow dozens of saplings, clones of the ancient trees, a process that takes approximately two-and-a-half-years. The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive has already planted nearly 100 of these saplings in the Eden Project garden in Cornwall, England, a couple hundred in Oregon, and is organizing further groves of saplings in nine other countries.