Trees are some of the most fascinating organisms on our planet. Though they come in all shapes and sizes, all trees are similar in that they need the sun’s energy to grow. Scientists estimate that there may be more than 100,000 distinct species of tree, totaling nearly 25 percent of the plant species in the world. Some of these giants can reach heights exceeding 300 feet and stand rooted to the same patch of Earth for thousands of years. These next five trees are stunning examples of how trees have adapted to withstand the harsh climate of our planet without moving an inch.
The Tule Tree (El Árbol del Tule)
“El Árbol del Tule” or the Tule Tree in English is one of the most fascinating trees in all the natural world. The Tule Tree is a special species of tree, a Montezuma Cypress, a species native only to the highlands of Mexico and the Southern US. Standing on sacred church grounds in the town of Santa María del Tule about 10 km east of the Mexican city of Oaxaca, it is one of the stoutest tree in the world (widest trunk). At its last measurement, the trunk’s circumference measured an astounding 119 feet with a diameter of just over 38 feet. Despite its extremely wide base, the tree itself remains rather small, estimated to be about 120 feet tall. Controversy arose when people questioned if the tree was merely two separate trees that grew into one another, however DNA testing has confirmed it is only one tree. Though its age is unknown, most scientists believe it is between 1,200 and 3,000 years old. An old Zapotec legend claims the tree was sowed 1,400 years ago a priest of the Aztec wind god, Ehecatl. The Tule Tree or “tree of life” as some call it, is one of the center pieces of the town and is used by school children to learn the processes of natural world.
Sri Maha Bodhi Tree
The Sri Maha Bodhi Tree is one of the most fascinating examples of how influential and important trees are in both the natural and spiritual world. Commonly known as Bo, this Banyan Fig tree is of great importance to the Buddhist religion. The tree grows from the ruins of the Mahabodhi Temple and it is said that after Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, received enlightenment, he stood before this very tree without moving for an entire week in gratitude for his transformation more than 2500 years ago. The trees actual origins can still be traced back as far as 288 BCE when it was believed to have been planted at the now ruined temple. If this were true, it would make the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree the oldest known living angiosperm (flowering plant) in the entire world! Never-the-less, the stunning visuals of the tree’s sheer magnitude and its close association with the Buddha it to experience a flourishing re-emergence as a Buddhist holy site as thousands come every year to visit the sacred tree.
Perhaps the most well known tree in the United States is General Sherman, the giant Sequoia located in Sequoia National Park near Visalia, California. Named for famed American Civil War general, William Tecumseh Sherman, this giant stands 275 feet high, breaking through the misty ceiling of the Pacific North-west. Though it may be 100 feet shorter than some of its neighbors such as Hyperion (a 379 foot Costal Redwood), it’s trunk measures more than 100 feet around at the base, giving the entire organism a total size of more than 1480 cubic meters, the largest non-cloned organism in the world. This one tree alone weighs as much as ten blue whales; that’s more than 6000 tones! Estimates place the tree’s age around 2400 years, making it one of the oldest organisms in North America. In 2006, a large branch broke off of the tree, however, it has virtually no effect on the tree’s metrics because it is just that big!
Chapel Oak Tree
Known in French as “Chêne chapelle” chapel oaks are trees that have entire houses of worship built into them. The most well known chapel oak can be found in Allouville-Bellefosse in Seine-Maritime, France. The tree is by no means a giant, standing only 15 meters high and with a base 16 meters around. This particular oak is between 800 and 1200 years old and when a lighting bolt hollowed it out, architects went to work designing a way to incorporate the tree into some form of a church. The tree itself contains two distinct chapel rooms entitles “Our Lady of Peace” and the “Hermit’s room”, each carved into the organism in 1669. There is even a spiral staircase built into the trunk of the tree so you can reach the rooms. There are other chapel oaks around Europe, many others in France as well; however the tree at Allouville-Bellefosse remains the most famous.
The final tree on the list is a tie between two extraordinary elders of the natural world; Methuselah and Prometheus, a pair of Great Bristlecone Pine trees found in the dry and arid mountains of California and Nevada respectively. Methuselah borrows its name from an important biblical figure reputed to have lived to be 969 years old. It is currently the world’s oldest non-cloned living organism, estimated to be over 4,480 years old. Prometheus on the other hand, was cut down by U.S. Forest Service employees in 1964 in an attempt to gather information about the species. Scientists were shocked to discover the tree was more than 4862 years old, meaning it was already three-millennia old when Christ was born and still saplings when the pyramids were built. These trees represent a true evolutionary marvel, an organism able to continue to grow for thousands upon thousands of years. These trees have far more right to the land then we do as they have remained anchored to the same Earth that has seen hundreds of generations of humans rise and fall.
I would add to the list the baobabs. The Glencoe Baobab in South Africa has a trunk with a circumference of 47 m (150 ft). Although the trees do not produce annual rings, carbon dating shows that some of them lived for as much as 6,000 years. The impressive trunk can store up to 120,000 l (32,000 gal) of water to survive droughts, as they usually live in very dry areas. The baobab landscape like the one below looks quite magnificent.
Can you believe rubber and latex are made from trees! 90% of rubber comes from trees in southwest Asia.
“Plants that produce elastic latexes are largely neotropical. Commercial rubber is produced from latex of Hevea brasiliensis. The water proofing and elastic properties (rubber balls) of various rubber producing plants were discovered by native American cultures, the Aztecs or earlier mesoamericans, and South American tribes.”
Great question! Trees are awesome and take such a variety of interesting forms. Here’s another to add to the list:
The Joshua Tree. While technically not a tree and really a monocot in the Lily family (which is fascinating in and of itself), the Joshua Tree grows in a very limited range in the American southwest. I like to call it the Dr. Suess tree becuase it looks like it comes straight out of one of his books.
MANGROVES! They grow their roots in water and then the roots purify water-sources! (At least I think thats cool) I see these all the time in Florida. They are part of the reason why the water is so fresh in the Florida Keys.
I personally like any tree that turns different colors in the fall. I think it is pretty amazing how much a landscape can be transformed throughout the seasons because of trees.
The mangrove tree
I would say Goat Trees are for sure the coolest! (Although, technically it is the goats that are so cool since they are doing the climbing.)
The best way to amke your own cool trees is to grow a Bonsai. Contrary to popular opinion, Bonsai trees are not a special breed, but can be made from any tree with careful cultivation. This allows you to create your own cool trees!
I hope this helped.
All of the above answers are really great answers. But I feel that any tree is beautiful. Sometimes I just stop and look at a tree … they are all awesome.
I am not sure what type of tree this is but it looks pretty funky to me.
It looks pretty bizarre but it’s intriguing to me. I have yet to see a tree like that in my life. I’d love to see it in person. I wish I knew what kind it was 🙁
Douglas Firs — for any “Twin Peaks” fans.
The coolest tree in my opinion is the Maple tree. It’s pretty common, but nothing beats autumn in the Pacific Northwest when all of the leaves start to change and you can see a burst of orange on a green mountain. There are also a lot of Maples at the university I go to — they really light up the area with their vibrant colors during autumn.
The Banyan Tree is pretty darn awesome. Read the article at the link below to learn more about the crazy-awesome adaptations root system thingy of the Banyan Tree.
I know its a little too obvious, but in my opinion nothing beats the fresh scent of a pine forest. The air quality cannot be topped and the hint of pine smell refreshes the spirit.
This is a really interesting tree that I have seen on a couple of websites. I have not been able to identify what kind of tree it is, but it looks really similar to a birch tree, disregarding the holes.
i like willow tree. Aspirin is made out of it. I also hear that it marks a nearby water source. Plus, they just look really cool.
I really like the Paperbark Birch Tree. It’s bark peels off just like paper.
In my opinion, the Lone Cypress Tree on the coast of Monterrey Bay, California is one of the most visually gripping trees on the planet.
The oak tree. Acorns were always used as a staple food among early peoples. Acorns are also a staple food for many other types of wildlife, such as whitetail deer, chipmunks, squirrels, and turkeys. Oaks also have incredibly strong wood that is very useful. Oaks also have a very long taproot which draws water to the surface for surrounding plant communities.
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