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Ancient Trees in a Modern World


Ancient Trees in a Modern World

Redwoods are superlative. They are the world’s tallest trees. They are the best at sequestering carbon. And they are ancient—existing since the age of dinosaurs and capable of living for two millenia. Now, thanks to historian and author Jared Farmer, we are expanding our vocabulary for describing and understanding what he calls “Elderflora,” which is also the title of his new book that trace’s ancient plant life’s intersection with our modern human world. Can thinking of redwoods differently help us give care to young things that might grow old in the face of climate change before it's too late?

Read on to see how Farmer defined these terms, and how we at the Sempervirens Fund have used those terms in example sentences.

photo by Canopy Dynamics

Definitions by Jared Farmer, author of Elderflora: A Modern History of Ancient Trees

temporal services

The indirect benefits of elderflora to human life, such as the encouragement to meditate, venerate, or engage in long-term thinking. Compare with ecosystem services.

Throughout their tremendous life spans coast redwoods may seem virtually permanent and unchanging to the human mind and their physical presence provides a temporal service, anchoring our concept of time and change to the earth and allowing us to ponder the time line that stretches far before and far beyond our own existence.

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