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Oldest Living Things: Ancient Trees

Enduring Life

In search of nature’s oldest living things

By Emily Main
Photographs by Rachel Sussman

The camellia-dotted grounds at Middleton Place, the historic Charleston, South Carolina, estate built by politician Henry Middleton, are the oldest landscaped gardens in the United States. But the azaleas and magnolias planted there in 1741 are mere toddlers compared with the plants photographer Rachel Sussman has spent the past 7 years documenting.

Two-hundred-seventy-year-old trees? Too young. This artist has made it her mission to find and photograph the world’s oldest living species, be they exotic bushes or microscopic bacteria.