The World’s Largest Tree: Bringing Pando to the World in 3D

Aerial View of Fishlake Basin, Pando's Home An aerial view from 1,000 feet above Pando details the rugged land it calls home in the Fishlake Basin. A land carved by glaciers and re-shaped by volcanism here on the boundary between Basin and Range and Colorado Plateau Ecological provinces.  The scale of Pando is visible from this perspective. If you put your finger in the middle of the image where the waters end, and trace your finger around the green, that green Is Pando. Unlike the other trees around it that have turned yellow, Pando has not yet changed in this picture. The fact that all its leaves grow out together in spring, and change color at the same time in fall, was what first tipped off scientist that Pando may be a giant aspen clone. Photo credit: Lance Oditt
Aerial View of Fishlake Basin, Pando’s Home An aerial view from 1,000 feet above Pando details the rugged land it calls home in the Fishlake Basin. A land carved by glaciers and re-shaped by volcanism here on the boundary between Basin and Range and Colorado Plateau Ecological provinces. The scale of Pando is visible from this perspective. If you put your finger in the middle of the image where the waters end, and trace your finger around the green, that green Is Pando. Unlike the other trees around it that have turned yellow, Pando has not yet changed in this picture. The fact that all its leaves grow out together in spring, and change color at the same time in fall, was what first tipped off scientist that Pando may be a giant aspen clone. Photo credit: Lance Oditt

By Lance Oditt

Editor’s note: It is difficult to wrap one’s head around the idea of a single tree that covers more than 100 acres, yet that is Pando, the world’s largest tree, an aspen clone with tens of thousands of genetically identical branches. And if it’s hard to imagine, think how difficult it would be to make a comprehensive photographic survey of it, yet that’s what Lance Oditt, lead photographer of the Pando Photographic Survey and his team are trying to do. In part one of this three-part series, Oditt described Pando, its importance, and the idea of a photo survey. In this article, he confronts the many technical challenges inherent in a project of this magnitude, and the partnerships and coalition building that are necessary to get something like this started.

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