Tree Tuesday

The Tree of Life in Bahrain, Alawadhi 3000,

In a remote part of the Arabian desert in Bahrain sits a lone Ghaf tree (Prosopis cinerariathat has mysteriously survived for over 400 years. It’s known as The Sharajat-al-Hayat or The Tree of Life.

Lacking any visible source of water, the 32-foot mesquite tree has baffled visitors and scientists alike for its entire life as it has continued to grow. Although the mesquite tree is known for holding a great deal of water in its massive root system, there is still no source of water in sight. Even arid vegetation needs water to survive, which makes Bahrain’s Tree of Life even more mysterious.

The mystery of the tree’s survival has led to a lot of speculation.

Without a rational explanation for the tree’s biological success, many have turned to mythology and religion for answers. Some assert that Enki, an ancient god of water in Babylonian and Sumerian mythology, protects the tree. Others still believe the site is the historical location of the Garden of Eden.

Whatever the source of life is for this tree it has inspired millions of people and attracts upwards of 50,000 visitors a year from around the world.


Via Atlas Obscura

Tree Tuesday

The spring arrival of cherry blossom season is cause for celebration across Japan. There are published charts that track the progress of the blossoms from south to north and every region has festivals to bring people outside to enjoy the splendid views. I’ll never get to Japan to see the spectacle in person, but thanks to the internet I can still see the splendid views and live a bit vicariously. I’ve gathered a few of my favourite photos of cherry blossoms in Japan for you to see as well. Enjoy.  [Read more…]

Tree Tuesday

Desert trees need tricks up their sleeves to survive the hot, arid conditions and the Bottle Trees of Namibia and Angola (Pachypodium lealii) manage this with bulbous trunks that retain water.

Those trunks don’t just contain water, though. They have another trick up their sleeves to help them keep their water.

It’s also full of poison. This is not the kind of thing you want to find in your water bottles, but it does help the Bottle Tree actually keep its water. Which was their plan all along. That’s why it’s a Bottle Tree and not just a bottle. The poison is so effective that hunters in the region used to smear the sap on their arrows, just to add that extra ‘oomph’. And yet no-one calls it a Poison Dart Tree!

It all works rather well for the Bottle Tree, and they can grow to some 8 metres (26 ft) in height. Although sometimes they only reach about 1 metre (3 ft) tall. If you want to survive in a desert, you need to be willing to give a little. Or a lot. Like 7 metres (23 ft) of your potential height.

The trees are also covered in long, sharp prickles because poison alone might not keep their precious water supply safe.

However tall a Bottle Tree grows, it’ll be almost entirely branchless until the very top. The leaves grow on slender branches and are jealously defended from herbivores by sharp spines. Around May to November the leaves will all drop off as the Bottle Tree diverts all its effort into growing surprisingly extravagant flowers.

Those thorns are magnificent and you’ve got to love a tree that’s so determined and deadly.


From Real Monstrosities, which is a pretty interesting site full of weird and wonderful things.

Tree Tuesday

The world is full of interesting trees. This for example is the Jabuticaba Tree, or the Brazilian Grape Tree, from South America and those growths on its trunk are fruits. The tree is mainly found in southern Brazil in the Sao Paulo and Minus Gerais regions, but also grows in areas of Paraguay and Argentina.

The fruit itself is a small and round, about 3 to 4 cm in diameter, with one to four large seeds, a thick, deep purple colored skin and a sweet, white or rosy pink gelatinous flesh. Naturally the tree may flower and fruit only once or twice a year, but when continuously irrigated it flowers frequently, and fresh fruit can be available year round in tropical regions. During Jabuticaba season in Minas Gerais, thousands of street vendors sell fresh Jabuticaba in small net bags, and the sidewalks and streets are stained the same deep purple by discarded Jabuticaba skins.

Jabuticaba is largely eaten fresh, but because the fruit starts to ferment just 3-4 days after harvest, they are often used to make jams, tarts, strong wines, and liqueurs. Due to the extremely short shelf-life, fresh Jabuticaba fruit is very rare in markets outside of areas of cultivation. The fruit also has many medicinal uses. Traditionally, an astringent decoction of the sun-dried skins has been used as a treatment for hemoptysis, asthma, diarrhoea, and gargled for chronic inflammation of the tonsils. It also has several potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory anti-cancer compounds.

The full story is at


I will have more Canyon Matka and also posts from the aqueduct, but I am travelling tomorrow and Sunday so please have these ducks enjoying a sunlit evening by the Vardar in the meantime.

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Happy International Women’s Day.

Harakka in Autumn: Chapter 17

It’s time to bid farewell to the island of Harakka and I’d like to thank Ice Swimmer for sharing this special place with all of us. It’s been a wonderful adventure and I’m going to miss these quiet walks filled with colour and beauty.

Chapter 17 – Sea, Sky and Farewell

This is the final part of the story of my autumnal visits to Harakka. We start with an interlude with the theme Sea and Sky.

Two Masts ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

This picture is from the western rocks.

Essential for Life©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

Water is life and so are the sun and the air.

Into the Fog ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

The ship to Stockholm is going into the fog.

Autumnal ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

Saturday was a more autumnal day than Sunday.

After the interlude it is time to say goodbye to Harakka.

Strait ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

A view south to the strait between Särkkä and Harakka.

Call ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

The semaphore is up, calling the boat to mainland. Goodbye, Harakka.

This was the story of the island Harakka in October 2018.

Harakka in Autumn: Chapter 16

Thanks again Ice Swimmer for all the time and work you put into this series. 

Canyon Matka – Part 4: Botanicals!

Amongst all the rock and all the river, I found some rather delightful and charming botanical residents – it is the first day of March, so Spring is still making its slow entrance, but the first small spots of colour are appearing. If anyone would like to ID any of these plants, I’d be most grateful, because I seem to be short on time.

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Today’s song doesn’t have much to do about plants but focuses on the wandering aspect of enjoying strange places, new countries, and magnificent natural locations.

Canyon Matka – Part 3: Underwater Worlds

I promised the colour of the water, so here we are: underwater worlds sunk between the mountains.

The water was a deep green colour and strangely clear, at least near the shoreline.

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But the shapes that one could see underneath – mermaid cities and submerged civilisations and much, much more. I think Nessie even shows up at one point… Please enjoy!

[Read more…]

Harakka in Autumn: Chapter 16

It’s time to put away your worries for a while and take a walk with Ice Swimmer. Today we’re going up.

Chapter 16 – Top and Around

Odd Spruce Revisited ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

The spruce is odd because it has an even number of crowns. The deciduous trees behind the spruce are hiding the wetland.

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Canyon Matka – Part 1v2: Pathways cont’d

Here are some more pictures of the walk back from the caves, I don’t think any particular commentary is necessary, just enjoy. Although these are more demonstrative of the treachery inherent to any wild and untamed place that feels the heavy hand of human civilisation: rebellion lies not far beneath the surface.

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In some places, the railing was completely absent. From the pale scratches on the rock below, it was deduced that this was relatively recent damage… So the walk continued with frequent glances upslope! ©rq, all rights reserved.

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This, I think, was the most uncomfortable place of the entire hike. ©rq, all rights reserved.

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Gateway to a magical world… ©rq, all rights reserved.

Is this the tomb of Amontillado? Or simply a bricked up cave? The words ‘Open Sesame’ didn’t seem to have any effect at all… ©rq, all rights reserved.

Canyon Matka – Part 2: Reflections

One of my favourite books has a great bit about Truth, Illusion and the Edge between the two. And the edge of Canyon Matka is the mirror of the water. The mountains reach into the sky, but if you peer down into the water, you can see that the mountains descend into the depths as well – but more about that later.

It was a quiet evening. And the rocks, glorious rocks, dipped into the river and rose out of it, in bends and folds eons in the shaping.

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Harakka in Autumn: Chapter 15

It’s time to join Ice Swimmer on his walk around Harakka.

Chapter 15 – East

Emerging from the Wetland ©Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved

The bird watching shelter we visited earlier is on the right. Sunday was definitely brighter than Saturday. Across the water are the island Särkkä and Suomenlinna Sea Fortress.

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Canyon Matka – Part 1: Pathways

Week 1 here in Macedonia has been successfully survived. It’s a long-established truth that the more disaster you expect, the less you will get (like bringing an umbrella to prevent the rain), but it was still exhausting, and some recovery was in order. Apparently it is trendy to use nature exposure these days, so that is what we – my two Lithuanian colleagues and I – proceeded to do. This will be a long series of posts, because I finally had the time, the freedom and the unhurried companionship to take a… decent… amount of photos. So, here is part 1: Pathways (which will be in two parts). Let us take a walk! Also OMG it’s been so long since I posted!

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