how lovely are your branches
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 12:26:15 PM
There are probably hundreds of majestic and magnificent trees in the world - of these, some are particularly special:
10. Lone Cypress in Monterey
(Image credit: bdinphoenix [flickr])
(Image credit: mikemac29 [flickr])
Buffeted by the cold Pacific Ocean wind, the scraggly Lone Cypress [wiki] (Cupressus macrocarpa) in Pebble Beach, Monterey Peninsula, California, isn't a particularly large tree. It makes up for its small size, however, with its iconic status as a stunningly beautiful tree in splendid isolation, framed by an even more beautiful background of the Pacific Ocean.
9. Circus Trees
As a hobby, bean farmer Axel Erlandson [wiki] shaped trees – he pruned, bent, and grafted trees into fantastic shapes and called them "Circus Trees." For example, to make this "Basket Tree" arborsculpture, Erlandson planted six sycamore trees in a circle and then grafted them together to form the diamond patterns.
Basket Tree (Image credit: jpeepz [flickr])
The two-legged tree (Image credit: Vladi22, Wikipedia)
Ladder tree (Image credit: Arborsmith)
Axel Erlandson underneath one of his arborsculpture (Image credit: Wilma Erlandson, Cabinet Magazine)
Erlandson was very secretive and refused to reveal his methods on how to grow the Circus Trees. (He even carried out his graftings behind screens to protect against spies!) and carried the secrets to his grave.
The trees were later bought by millionaire Michael Bonfante, who transplanted them to his amusement park Bonfante Gardens in Gilroy in 1985.
8. Giant Sequoias: General Sherman
(Image credit: Humpalumpa [flickr])
Giant Sequoias [wiki] (Sequoiadendron giganteum), which only grow in Sierra Nevada, California, are the world's biggest trees (in terms of volume). The biggest is General Sherman [wiki] in the Sequoia National Park – one behemoth of a tree at 275 feet (83.8 m), over 52,500 cubic feet of volume (1,486 m³), and over 6000 tons in weight.
General Sherman is approximately 2,200 years old - and each year, the tree adds enough wood to make a regular 60-foot tall tree. It's no wonder that naturalist John Muir said, "The Big Tree is Nature's forest masterpiece, and so far as I know, the greatest of living things."
For over a century there was a fierce competition for the title of the largest tree: besides General Sherman, there is General Grant [wiki] at King's Canyon National Park, which actually has a larger circumference (107.5 feet / 32.77 m vs. Sherman's 102.6 feet / 31.27 m).
In 1921, a team of surveyors carefully measured the two giants - with their data, and according to the complex American Forestry Association system of judging a tree, General Grant should have been award the title of largest tree - however, to simplify the matter, it was later determined that in this case, volume, not point system, should be the determining factor.
7. Coast Redwood: Hyperion and Drive-Thru Trees
There is another sequoia species (not to be confused with Giant Sequoia) that is quite remarkable: the Coast Redwood [wiki] (Sequoia sempervirens), the tallest trees in the world.
The reigning champion is a tree called Hyperion in the Redwood National Park, identified by researcher Chris Atkins and amateur naturalist Michael Taylor in 2006. Measuring over 379 feet (155.6 115 m) tall, Hyperion beat out the previous record holder Stratosphere Giant [wiki] in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park (at 370 feet / 112.8 m).
The scientists aren't talking about the exact location of Hyperion: the terrain is difficult, and they don't want a rush of visitors to come and trample the tree's root system.
[Image: The Stratosphere Giant - still an impressive specimen, previously the world's tallest tree until dethroned by Hyperion in 2006.]
That's not all that’s amazing about the Coast Redwood: there are four giant California redwoods big enough that you can drive your car through them!
The most famous of the drive-through trees is the Chandelier Tree [wiki] in Leggett, California. It's a 315 foot tall redwood tree, with a 6 foot wide by 9 foot tall hole cut through its base in the 1930s.
Chandelier Tree. (Image credit: hlh-abg [flickr])
6. Chapel-Oak of Allouville-Bellefosse
Chapel-Oak of Allouville-Bellefosse (Image credit: Old trees in Netherlands & Europe)
(Image credit: dm1795 [flickr])
(Image credit: Luc Doudet)
The Chêne-Chapelle (Chapel-Oak) of Allouville-Bellefosse is the most famous tree in France – actually, it's more than just a tree: it's a building and a religious monument all in one.
In 1669, l'Abbe du Detroit and du Cerceau decided to build a chapel in (at that time) a 500 years old or so oak (Quercus robur) tree made hollow by a lightning bolt. The priests built a small altar to the Virgin Mary. Later on, a second chapel and a staircase were added.
Now, parts of the tree are dead, the crown keeps becoming smaller and smaller every year, and parts of the tree’s bark, which fell off due to old age, are covered by protective oak shingles. Poles and cables support the aging tree, which in fact, may not live much longer. As a symbol, however, it seems that the Chapel-Oak of Allouville-Bellefosse may live on forever.
5. Quaking Aspen: Pando (The Trembling Giant)
Quaking Aspen (Image: Wikipedia)
Aspen grove (Image credit: scottks1 [flickr])
Quaking Aspen in winter (Image credit: darkmatter [flickr])
Pando [wiki] or the Trembling Giant in Utah is actually a colony of a single Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) tree. All of the trees (technically, "stems") in this colony are genetically identical (meaning, they're exact clones of one another). In fact, they are all a part of a single living organism with an enormous underground root system.
Pando, which is Latin for "I Spread," is composed of about 47,000 stems spread throughout 107 acres of land. It estimated to weigh 6,600 tons, making it the heaviest known organism. Although the average age of the individual stems are 130 years, the entire organism is estimated to be about 80,000 years old!
4. Montezuma Cypress: The Tule Tree
The Tule Tree Towers over a church next to it (Image credit: jubilohaku [flickr])
Full width of the Tule Tree (Image credit: Gengiskanhg, Wikipedia)
Close-up of the tree's gnarled trunk. Local legends say that you can make out animals like jaguars and elephants in the trunk, giving the tree the nickname of "the Tree of Life" (Image credit: jvcluis [flickr])
El Árbol del Tule [wiki] ("The Tule Tree") is an especially large Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) near the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. This tree has the largest trunk girth at 190 feet (58 m) and trunk diameter at 37 feet (11.3 m). The Tule tree is so thick that people say you don't hug this tree, it hugs you instead!
For a while, detractors argued that it was actually three trees masquerading as one - however, careful DNA analysis confirmed that it is indeed one magnificent tree.
In 1994, the tree (and Mexican pride) were in jeopardy: the leaves were sickly yellow and there were dead branches everywhere - the tree appeared to be dying. When tree "doctors" were called in, they diagnosed the problem as dying of thirst. The prescription? Give it water. Sure enough, the tree soon recovered after a careful watering program was followed.
3. Banyan Tree: Sri Maha Bodhi Tree
The Banyan tree is named after "banians" or Hindu traders who carry out their business under the tree. Even if you have never heard of a Banyan tree (it was the tree used by Robinson Crusoe for his treehouse), you'd still recognize it. The shape of the giant tree is unmistakable: it has a majestic canopy with aerial roots running from the branches to the ground.
Banyan tree (Image credit: Diorama Sky [flickr])
Closer view of the Banyan aerial root structure (Image credit: BillyCrafton [flickr])
If you were thinking that the Banyan tree looks like the trees whose roots snake through the ruins of the Ta Prohm temple like tentacles of the jungle (Lara Croft, anyone?) at Ankor, Cambodia , you'd be right!
Banyan tree (or is it silk-cotton tree?) in the ruins of Ta Prohm, Ankor, Cambodia (Image Credit: Casual Chin [flickr])
One of the most famous species of Banyan, called the Sacred Fig [wiki] or Bo tree, is the Sri Maha Bodhi [wiki] tree in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It is said that the tree was grown from a cutting from the original tree under which Buddha became enlightened in the 6th century BC.
Planted in 288 BC, it is the oldest living human-planted tree in the world, with a definitive planting date!
(Image credit: Images of Ceylon)
(Image credit: Wikipedia)
2. Bristlecone Pine: Methuselah and Prometheus, the Oldest Trees in the World.
Methuselah Grove (Image Credit: NOVA Online)
Bristlecone pine grove in which Prometheus grew (Image credit: James R. Bouldin, Wikipedia)
The oldest living tree in the world is a White Mountains, California, bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) named Methuselah [wiki], after the Biblical figure who lived to 969 years old. The Methuselah tree, found at 11,000 feet above sea level, is 4,838 years old – it is not only the oldest tree but also the oldest living non-clonal organism in the world.
Before Methuselah was identified as the world's oldest tree by Edmund Schulman in 1957, people thought that the Giant Sequoias were the world's oldest trees at about 2,000 years old. Schulman used a borer to obtain a core sample to count the growth rings of various bristlecone pines, and found over a dozen trees over 4,000 years old.
The story of Prometheus [wiki] is even more interesting: in 1964, Donald R. Currey [wiki], then a graduate student, was taking core samples from a tree named Prometheus. His boring tool broke inside the tree, so he asked for permission from the US Forest Service to cut it down and examine the full cross section of the wood. Surprisingly the Forest Service agreed! When they examined the tree, Prometheus turned out to be about 5,000 years old, which would have made it the world's oldest tree when the scientist unwittingly killed it!
Stump of the Prometheus Tree. (Image Credit: James R. Bouldin, Wikipedia)
Today, to protect the trees from the inquisitive traveler, the authorities are keeping their location secret (indeed, there are no photos identifying Methuselah for fear of vandalism).
The amazing baobab [wiki] (Adansonia) or monkey bread tree can grow up to nearly 100 feet (30 m) tall and 35 feet (11 m) wide. Their defining characteristic: their swollen trunk are actually water storage - the baobab tree can store as much as 31,700 gallon (120,000 l) of water to endure harsh drought conditions.
Baobab trees are native to Madagascar (it's the country's national tree!), mainland Africa, and Australia. A cluster of "the grandest of all" baobab trees (Adansonia grandidieri) can be found in the Baobab Avenue, near Morondava, in Madagascar.
(Image credit: Fox-Talbot, Wikipedia)
(Image credit: plizzba [flickr])
(Image credit: Daniel Montesino [flickr])
In Ifaty, southwestern Madagascar, other baobabs take the form of bottles, skulls, and even teapots.
Teapot baobab (Image credit: Gilles Croissant)
The baobab trees in Africa are amazing as well.
Baobab in Tanzania (Image credit: telethon [flickr])
Baobab near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (Image credit: ironmanix [flickr])
There are many practical uses of baobab trees, like for a toilet.
A toilet built inside a baobab tree in the Kayila Lodge, Zambia (Image credit: Steve Makin [flickr])
… and even for a prison.
A "Prison Baob" tree in Western Australia (Image credit: yewenyi [flickr])
Bonus: Tree That Owns Itself
Son of the Tree That Owns Itself (Image Credit: Bloodofox, Wikipedia)
Legend has it that the Tree That Owns Itself [wiki], a white oak in Athens, Georgia was given ownership of itself and the surrounding land by Dr. William Henry Jackson in 1820! The original tree had died long ago, but a new tree (Son of The Tree That Owns Itself) was planted at the same location from one of its acorns.
Bonus 2: The Lonely Tree of Ténéré
The Tree of Ténéré in the 1970s, before a truck crashed into it (Image credit: Peter Krohn)
The Tree of Ténéré* or L'Arbre du Ténéré was the world's most isolated tree – the solitary acacia, which grew in the Sahara desert in Niger, Africa, was the only tree within more than 250 miles (400 km) around.
The tree was the last surviving member of a group of acacias that grew when the desert wasn't as dry. When scientists dug a hole near the tree, they found its roots went down as deep as 120 feet (36 m) below to the water table!
Apparently, being the only tree in that part of the wide-open desert (remember: there wasn't another tree for 250 miles around), wasn't enough to stop a drunk Libyan truck driver from driving his truck into it, knocking it down and killing it!
Now, a metal sculpture was placed in its spot to commemorate the Lonely Tree of Ténéré.
(Image credit: Nomad’s Land, main website)
The Cedars of God (Arabic: أرز الربّ "Cedars of the Lord") are among the last survivors of the extensive forests of the Cedars of Lebanon that thrived across Mount Lebanon in ancient times. Their timber was exploited by the Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians as well as the Phoenicians. The wood was prized by Egyptians for shipbuilding; Solomon used them in the construction of the First Temple in Jerusalem and the Ottoman Empire also used the cedars in railway construction.
Located in the Indian Botanical Gardens, Howrah, over the River Hooghly from Kolkata, the Great Banyan was the widest tree in the world, in terms of the area of the canopy. It is estimated as about 200 to 250 years old. It became diseased after it was struck by lightning, so in 1925 the middle of the tree was excised to keep the remainder healthy; this has left it as a clonal colony, rather than a single tree. A 330 m long road was built around its circumference, but the tree continues to spread beyond it.
The Bodhi Tree, also known as Bo (from the Sinhalese Bo), was a large and very old Sacred Fig tree (Ficus religiosa) located in Bodh Gaya (about 100 km (62 mi) from Patna in the Indian state of Bihar), under which Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism later known as Gautama Buddha, achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi. In religious iconography, the Bodhi tree is recognizable by its heart-shaped leaves, which are usually prominently displayed. It takes 100 to 3,000 years for a bodhi tree to fully grow. The term "Bodhi Tree" is also widely applied to currently existing trees, particularly the Sacred Fig growing at the Mahabodhi Temple, which is a direct descendant of the original specimen. This tree is a frequent destination for pilgrims, being the most important of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage sites. Other holy Bodhi trees which have a great significance in the history of Buddhism are the Anandabodhi tree in Sravasti and the Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Both are believed to have been propagated from the original Bodhi tree.
Jōmon Sugi (縄文杉?) is a large cryptomeria tree (yakusugi) located on Yakushima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Japan. It is the oldest and largest of nearly 2,000-year-old-growth cryptomeria trees on the island, and is estimated to be between 2,170 and 7,200 years old. Other estimates of the tree's age include "at least 5,000 years," "more than 6,000 years," and "up to 7,000 years old." The tree's name is a reference to the Jōmon period of Japanese prehistory. Jōmon Sugi is located on the north face of Miyanoura-dake, the highest peak on Yakushima, at an elevation of 1,300 m (4,300 ft). Discovery of the tree in 1968 "sparked moves to protect the forests" of Yakushima and gave rise to the island's tourist industry, which comprises more than half of its economy. Jōmon Sugi is accessible via the Kusugawa Hiking Path (east of Miyanoura) and the Arakawa Trail (starting at the Arakawa Dam), but requires a "four-to-five hour mountain hike" from the nearest road to reach. After the designation of Yakushima as a World Heritage Site in 1993, local officials restricted access to the tree to an observation deck built at a distance of 50 ft (15 m) from the tree. The tree has a height of 25.3 m (83 ft) and a trunk circumference of 16.2 m (53 ft). It has a volume of approximately 10,000 cu ft (300 m3), making it the largest conifer in Japan. Tree-ring dating conducted by Japanese scientists on the tree's branches indicated that Jōmon Sugi is at least 2,000 years old. In Remarkable Trees of the World (2002), arborist Thomas Pakenham describes Jōmon Sugi as "a grim titan of a tree, rising from the spongy ground more like rock than timber, his vast muscular arms extended above the tangle of young cedars and camphor trees." In 2005, vandals stripped from the tree a piece of bark measuring about 4 in (10 cm) on each side. In April 2009, Jōmon Sugi was partnered with Tāne Mahuta in New Zealand's Waipoua Forest.
A Chankiri Tree or Killing Tree was a tree in the Cambodian Killing Fields which children and infants were slung against to kill them. Some of the soldiers laughed as they beat the children against the trees. Not to laugh could have indicated sympathy, making oneself a target.
Alishan Sacred Tree, a species of cypress, was located at the Alishan train station, Taiwan. It fell on July 1st, 1997. The Alishan National Scenic Area (traditional Chinese: 阿里山國家風景區; pinyin: Ālǐshān guójiā fēngjǐng qū) is a mountain resort and natural preserve located in the mountains of Chiayi County in Taiwan. It is 415 km² in area. It includes, among other things, mountain wilderness, four villages, waterfalls, high altitude tea plantations, the Alishan Forest Railway and several hiking trails. The area is popular among tourists and mountain climbers, and Alishan or Mount Ali (Chinese: 阿里山; pinyin: Ālǐshān) itself has become one of the major landmarks associated with Taiwan. The area is also famous for its production of high mountain tea and wasabi. Alishan is well known for its sunrises, and on a suitable morning one can observe the sun come up on a sea of clouds (simplified Chinese: 云海; traditional Chinese: 雲海; pinyin: yúnhǎi) in the area between Alishan and Yüshan. Alishan and Sun Moon Lake are, arguably, two of the most well-known scenic spots in Asia. The song Ālǐshān de gūniang, ‘the girls of Alishan’, that refers to the beautiful girls of the Tsou aborigial tribe, is one of Taiwan's most popular folk songs. This song is also well-known in several foreign countries, like the People's Republic of China.
The Guilty Chinese Scholartree (Chinese: 罪槐; pinyin: Zuìhuái), a specimen of Pagoda Tree (Styphnolobium japonicum) located in Beijing's Jingshan park, is a famous tree and national landmark on which the last Ming Chongzhen Emperor hanged himself after a group of peasants (led by Li Zicheng) successfully stormed the Forbidden City in 1644. The tree was uprooted during the Cultural Revolution and the present one that stands in its place is a replica.
*L'Arbre du Ténéré, known in English as the Tree of Ténéré, was a solitary acacia, of either Acacia raddiana or Acacia tortilis, that was once considered the most isolated tree on Earth — the only one within more than 200 kilometres (120 mi). It was a landmark on caravan routes through the Ténéré region of the Sahara in northeast Niger — so well known that it and the Arbre Perdu or 'Lost Tree' to the north are the only trees to be shown on a map at a scale of 1:4,000,000. The Tree of Ténéré was near a 40-metre (131 feet)-deep well at approximately 17°45′00″N 10°04′00″E.
It was the last surviving tree of a group of trees that grew when the desert was less parched than it is today. The tree had stood alone for decades. During the winter of 1938–1939 a well was dug near the tree and it was found that the roots of the tree reached the water table 33–36 meters (108 to 118 feet) below the surface.
Commander of the A.M.M., Michel Lesourd, of the Service central des affaires sahariennes [Central service of Saharan affairs], saw the tree on May 21, 1939:
"One must see the Tree to believe its existence. What is its secret? How can it still be living in spite of the multitudes of camels which trample at its sides. How at each azalai does not a lost camel eat its leaves and thorns? Why don't the numerous Touareg leading the salt caravans cut its branches to make fires to brew their tea? The only answer is that the tree is taboo and considered as such by the caravaniers.
There is a kind of superstition, a tribal order which is always respected. Each year the azalai gather round the Tree before facing the crossing of the Ténéré. The Acacia has become a living lighthouse; it is the first or the last landmark for the azalai leaving Agadez for Bilma, or returning."
The modern Tree of Ténéré, as seen in December 1985
The tree was knocked down by an allegedly drunk Libyan truck driver in 1973. On November 8, 1973 the dead tree was moved to the Niger National Museum in the capital Niamey. It has been replaced by a simple metal sculpture representing a tree.
This was not the tree's first encounter with a truck. In his book L'épopée du Ténéré, French ethnologist and explorer Henri Lhote described his two journeys to the Tree of Ténéré. His first visit was in 1934 on the occasion of the first automobile crossing between Djanet and Agadez. He describes the tree as "an Acacia with a degenerative trunk, sick or ill in aspect. Nevertheless, the tree has nice green leaves, and some yellow flowers." He visited it again 25 years later, on 26 November 1959 with the Berliet-Ténéré mission, but found that it had been badly damaged after a vehicle had collided with it:
"Before, this tree was green and with flowers; now it is a colourless thorn tree and naked. I cannot recognise it — it had two very distinct trunks. Now there is only one, with a stump on the side, slashed, rather than cut a metre from the soil. What has happened to this unhappy tree? Simply, a lorry going to Bilma has struck it... but it has enough space to avoid it... the taboo, sacred tree, the one which no nomad here would have dared to have hurt with his hand... this tree has been the victim of a mechanic..."
~sources ::: 10 Most Magnificent Trees in the World., By Alex in Neatorama Only on Mar 21, 2007 at 1:20 am http://www.neatorama.com/2007/03/21/10-most-magnificent-trees-in-the-world/ & wikipedia