The samples show a record of climate previously unknown, like droughts that impacted colonial settlements.
Stahle has worked for years cataloging bald cypress trees. A 1988 study he published helped preserve 16,000 acres of forest by The Nature Conservancy, a land conservation group.
"This ancient forest gives us an idea of what much of North Carolina's coastal plain looked like millennia ago," Katherine Skinner, executive director of the North Carolina chapter of The Nature Conservancy, said in a release. "It is a source of inspiration and an important ecosystem. Without Dr. Stahle, it would have gone unprotected and likely destroyed."
These are considered the oldest trees in eastern North America, and Stahle believes there are even older trees in the forest still undiscovered.