Abstract

Edmund Schulman is rightly honored for quantifying the age of bristlecone pines and discovering individuals significantly older than giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron gigantea), previously thought to be the oldest living things. However, George Engelmann inferred the potential for great age in his description of bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata) almost a century before, in 1863. Staff from Inyo National Forest remade Engelmann’s inference, and publically asserted that White Mountain bristlecones might outlive giant sequoias before Schulman had published any results of his bristlecone research.

Schulman sampled White Mountains pines after seeing a photograph and caption associated with an article by founders of the University of California White Mountain Research Station. Although Schulman’s correspondence and publications make this clear, incorrect theories regarding his decision to come to the White Mountains have been published and are promulgated at the Schulman Grove Visitor Center in the White Mountains. This paper places Schulman’s work in its historic context by recovering forgotten information about attempts by Inyo National Forest staff and White Mountain Research Station to call attention to the trees. It also recovers details of Schulman’s and Ferguson’s activities in the White Mountains range as documented in field notes and Thomas Harlan’s Bristlecone Pine Project database.

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