In his book The Overstory, Richard Powers wrote, “This is not our world with trees in it. It’s a world of trees, where humans have just arrived.”
Trees have been in existence for 370 million years, which is wild to think about when you consider that humans have only existed for about 200,000 of those years. They’re fundamental to our existence, as well as to the existence of many other species in the world, and they come in so many different shapes, sizes, and forms.
It isn’t surprising that are some pretty magnificent trees out there.
Baobab Trees, Madagascar
Baobab trees, also known as renala, which is Malagasy for “mother of the forest,” are around 2,800 years old. These tall and smooth looking trees are all that’s left of the dense, tropical forests that used to cover Madagascar.
Japanese Maple, Portland
The Japanese maple is an incredible, twisting wonder that’s native to Japan, Korea, China, Mongolia, and parts of Russia. Through selective breeding, many different variations of the tree now exist, but they all have their famous hand-shaped leaves.
Angel Oak Tree, South Carolina
The Angel Oak is a relatively young tree, being between 500–600 years old, but that hasn’t stopped it from growing to be an enormous beauty. It’s said that the tree is haunted, and many people have reported seeing angels surround the trunk.
The Trees Of Dead Vlei
Also known as the “Dead Marsh,” Dead Vlei is a forest that’s been frozen in time, nestled between some of the largest sand dunes in the world in Namibia. At one time, there was a river that flowed through the area and kept the trees and wildlife alive, but about 900 years ago, the climate dried up and the dunes cut the forest off from the rest of the world. It became too dry for the trees to even decompose.
Dragon Blood Tree, Yemen
The dragon blood tree is found in Socotra, Yemen. The tree is named after its dark red resin that leaks from the tree and makes it seem like the tree is bleeding. The resin was once highly prized in ancient times because it was actually believed that the resin was dragon’s blood. That made it a desirable ingredient for ritual magic and alchemy.
The Crooked Forest, Poland
The Crooked Forest in Poland is a forest of strangely shaped pine trees. There are exactly 400 trees in the grove, which was planted in the 1930s. Each tree bends sharply to the north and then gradually upright again. It is generally thought that some kind of human intervention caused them to grow this way, but it still remains unknown for certain.
To look at Pando, you might see what is a beautiful but unremarkable forest of quaking aspens. But, Pando, also known as the “Trembling Giant” is actually one big tree with a massive, interconnected underground root system. The root system is thought to be around 80,000 years old, making it one of the oldest living organisms in the world. Sadly, Pando is thought to be dying, though no one is quite sure why.
Methuselah is a 4,852-year-old Great Basin bristlecone pine. It’s known as the oldest living non-clonal tree in the world. That means that it is not the genetic duplicate of a parent organism, but the actual original organism itself.
Wisteria Tunnel, Japan
Wisterias are one of Japan’s most famous plants, second only to the cherry blossom. They grow by wrapping their branches around whatever they can reach for support. They’re actually a member of the pea family. The tunnel is created by 150 flowering wisteria plants of roughly 20 species.
Antarctic Beech, Australia
The Antarctic beech is an ancient tree that exists only in the rainforests of the Southern Hemisphere. The distribution pattern that the Antarctic beech has around the Pacific Ocean rim has led scientists to believe that the tree spread a long time ago, when Australia, Antarctica, and South America were all one landmass, a supercontinent called Gondwana.
The Chapel Oak, France
The ancient oak tree has been hollowed out and is now home to two tiny chapels that can only be reached by a spiral staircase that snakes around the trunk. It’s thought to be the oldest tree in France. It has survived Louis XIV, the French Revolution, Napoleon, and Sarkozy. The majority of the tree has now died, but it is still an incredible sight to see.
Tibetan Cherry Tree, China
The Tibetan cherry tree is native to China and is most often used as decoration because of its striking red bark. What makes the tree even more interesting than its color is how remarkably strong the bark is: in terms of its strength and durability, it’s been compared to Mylar.
Sagano Bamboo Forest, Japan
The Sagano Bamboo Forest is such an incredible spot that the sound of the trees swaying and creaking in the wind has been made a governmentally recognized soundscape. The area is thought to have been enjoyed by people since the Heian Period, which lasted between 794–1185.
Strangler Fig, Ta Prohm Bahrain
Ta Prohm is a temple that still stands in Cambodia and dates back to the 12th century. It was originally created as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university, but it has long since been abandoned. Now, the site is remarkable for another reason: the temple is slowing being engulfed by strangler figs, giving the area an extra spooky feel.
The Oyamel Fir Forest, Mexico
The oyamel fir forest is made up evergreen coniferous trees. You might recognize it is a largely grown version of the tree that many of us keep in our homes for Christmas. What makes oyamel forests special is that every year, monarch butterflies migrate to the forests in droves.
The Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland
The Dark Hedges is a grove of beech trees that reach up and intertwine, making a mystical tunnel that many people may recognize from Game of Thrones. The trees were planted by James Stuart in 1775 to create an imposing look for the entrance of his home, Gracehill House. It’s no surprise that the spooky road is thought to be haunted by a variety of different ghosts.
Bald Cypress, North Carolina
The bald cypress is a long-living tree that grows very slowly. They’re found in many different climates, but one of the most impressive places they call home are the swamps of the southeastern United States. The oldest living bald cypresses date back to 364 AD. They’ve even been found in forests underwater that could not be carbon dated, which suggests that those trees underwater could be up to 50,000 years old.
Rainbow Eucalyptus, Philippines
Rainbow eucalyptus trees are beautiful trees that grow quickly in warm climates. They are native to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. Of the over 700 species of eucalyptus, it is one of only four that don’t grow in Australia.
General Sherman, California
General Sherman is a giant sequoia. By volume, it’s the largest living single stem tree on Earth. It stands at 275 feet tall, with a diameter of 25 feet. It’s likely that General Sherman was seeded between 700BC–300BC.
Tree of Life, Bahrain
The Tree of Life is over 400 years old and sits on a hill in one of the most barren parts of the Arabian Dessert. The tree is one of the only living trees in the area, and it is covered in lush, green leaves. It’s not known how the tree survives in the harsh conditions that it lives in. Some believe that it’s protected by Enki, a water god. Others think it stands on what used to be the Garden of Eden.