Sweet Pandu Song, the largest tree on Earth

pandanus tree in autumn credit: stock struggle

For this story, we’ll take a trip to south central Utah and into Fishlake National Forest to visit the largest tree on earth, an aspen called Pando. The strange thing about Pando is that it doesn’t look like the largest tree in the world. It has rolling hills with thousands of tall, lean poplars swaying in the wind.

But Bando is there, hiding in plain sight. All those tree stumps you see aren’t actually individual trees. Technically, it’s branches, and that’s because Pando is a huge tree — it spans over 100 acres, with 47,000 branches growing from it.

An aerial view of a beautiful lush valley full of trees, golden hills and a large lake.  On the right hand side, an area of ​​land shaded in green is the Pando land mass
Aerial view of the Pandu landmass, shown in green. Credit: Lance Odette, friendsofpando.org/ GIS Map by Paul Rogers and Darren McAvoy

There is so much to learn about Pando, and our guests turned to audio to better understand the tree. Together, they create a “sound picture” to hear all the cracklings, splinters, and cracks that happen in and around the tree.

Ira speaks with Jeff Rice, sound artist and co-founder of Acoustic Atlas at Montana State University Library, and Lance Odette, executive director of the nonprofit Friends of Pando, which is dedicated to preserving the tree.


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