Nestled between two boulders on a low rise in the Jurupa Hills of Riverside County, a good 30 miles from its nearest living relative, lies the ultimate survivor -- an oak bush that researchers believe is 13,000 years old.
That's 1,000 years older than a previously identified Palm Springs creosote bush that was thought to be the oldest plant in California, 8,000 years older than bristlecone pines and 10,000 years older than the redwoods.
While it is one of the world's oldest living plants, it is probably not the oldest. That distinction may belong to a quaking aspen in Utah that is thought to be as old as 80,000 years or a holly in Tasmania that may be 43,000 years old.
But the Jurupa oak, researchers reported Tuesday in the online journal PLoS One, is unusual in that it is well out of its normal environment, which would be high in the mountains. It took seed at its current location near the end of the last Ice Age, when the climate was cooler and wetter. As its brethren died out because of climatic change, it persisted.