Artwork copyright (c) 2014 Tucker Nichols

“Pando” is the name given to the largest and oldest organism on Earth, a quaking aspen that extends over 100 acres in southern Utah.

Above ground, Pando appears to be a grove of individual trees, but underground, the trees are interconnected by a single and vast root system, genetically identical. It is one tree.

We have taken its name to identify a new movement inspired by the ecological relations that interconnect us all, Pando Populus (“populus” is the genus for aspen). “Seizing an Alternative” is the Pando Populus inaugural conference.

More about Pando

Pando was given its name by the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor botanist Burton Barnes. Scientists disagree about Pando’s age, but estimates vary between 12,000 and 80,000 years old, a time span which minimally goes back to the end of the last ice age, and maximally back to the emergence of modern humans from Africa.

Among the different strategies adopted by living organisms to survive in difficult circumstances, Pando does especially well in competition with other organisms in the midst of life-threatening natural disasters like fires, landslides, and floods. Other organisms, struggling to survive in the context of radically deprived nutritional resources, can’t compete with Pando, which receives nutrition and support from the whole of its extensive root system. Despite surviving countless natural disasters, however, Pando is now under threat from human activities–from an exploding deer and elk population, due to the elimination of predators, from misplaced development, and by the impending prospect of radical climate change.

Marvelous in its beauty, astounding in its age and extent, Pando is a fitting image for our common life together, now under threat–and symbol for the conference: Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization.

Check out these exclusive photos of Pando, and the surrounding area, compliments of Bob Ireland and Vern Visick. 

For further information on Pando Populus, visit:

(Pando: Latin, “I Spread,” Populus: Genus Aspen) Photo courtesy of Paul Rogers, Utah State University (USU)
The trembling aspen tree Pando, Fishlake National Forest, Utah.

For further information the Pando grove, see:

1. Wikipedia 
2. Salt Lake City Weekly
3. Discover Magazine
4. Plants and Prejudice  (be sure to listen to the sound clip at the end of the article)
. “The Clonal Growth Habit of American Aspens,” by Burton V. Barnes,Ecology, Vol. 47, #3 (May, 1966), pp. 439-447. Published by the Ecological Society of America. URL:

Photo copyright © 2014 Paul Rogers, Utah State University