Tree Tuesday

I love to see the bright, fresh blossoms on flowering trees in early spring, but around here the show hasn’t started yet and the trees seem to be waking up very, very slowly. In Germany, though, the cherry trees are in full bloom and Avalus has taken some gorgeous photographs to share with us.

©Avalus, all rights reserved

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Tree Tuesday

The Tree of Life in Bahrain, Alawadhi 3000, Wikipedia.org

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

It’s finally spring! Well, at least it is in Germany and Avalus is sharing a wonderful blossoming tree with us today.

Today at noon, it was really warm (18°C in the sun!) and so I had a stroll over campus, discovering many things. And a fruit tree in bloom, with lots of bees doing beesness!

©Avalus, all rights reserved

 

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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 Amusingplanet.com.

Tree Tuesday

 

This graceful bonsai is the Yamaki Pine and it resides at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington D.C. The tree, a Japanese White Pine, was gifted to the U.S. by the family of bonsai master Masaru Yamaki  in 1976. The tree is close to 400 years old and had been kept in the Yamaki family for at least six generations. It isn’t its age or its looks that makes this tree special, though. This plucky little tree actually survived the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan in 1945.

On August 6, 1945, at a quarter-past 8 a.m., bonsai master Masaru Yamaki was inside his home when glass fragments hurtled past him, cutting his skin, after a strong force blew out the windows of the house. The U.S. B-29 bomber called the “Enola Gay” had just dropped the world’s first atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima, at a site just two miles from the Yamaki home.

The bomb wiped out 90 percent of the city, killing 80,000 Japanese immediately and eventually contributing to the death of at least 100,000 more. But besides some minor glass-related injuries, Yamaki and his family survived the blast, as did their prized bonsai trees, which were protected by a tall wall surrounding the outdoor nursery.

After going through what the family had gone through, to even donate one was pretty special and to donate this one was even more special,” says Jack Sustic, curator of the Bonsai and Penjing museum. Yamaki’s donation of this tree, which had been in his family for at least six generations, is a symbol of the amicable relationship that emerged between the countries in the years following World War II.

The full story is at Smithsonian.com.

Tree Tuesday

This week we’re looking at the Dragon’s Blood Tree, a very unique evergreen tree that grows in only one place, Socatra Island in the Arabian Sea and belonging to Yeman. The tree gets its name from the red resin that it secretes and this resin has been used for centuries for many different purposes.

According to legend, the first dragon blood tree was created from the blood of a dragon that was wounded when it fought an elephant. Like the unfortunate dragon, the tree secretes its resin when it’s injured. In ancient times the resin was believed to have magical and medicinal properties. People used it as a pigment for art, a dye, and a medicine. Dragon’s blood is still used for these purposes today.

The Dragon’s Blood Tree is absolutely unique in appearance.

The crown of the tree often looks like an umbrella that has been turned inside out. The fact that the branches are bare except at their tips adds to this illusion. The long and stiff leaves are born in bunches at the ends of the branches. Some trees have more rounded crowns than others and remind me of giant mushrooms instead of umbrellas.

The branches have a rippled appearance. They develop in a very regular pattern known as dichotomous branching. In this process, each branch produces two new branches arising from the same point. The process repeats to create the base of the tree’s crown.

Like the leaves, the flowers are borne at the tips of the branches. The flowers are small and greenish-white in colour. They are located in groups known as inflorescences. The fertilized flowers produce green berries that change to black as they ripen and then to orange when they are fully ripe.

The Dragon’s Blood Tree grows slowly and is very long-lived. According to Just Fun Facts,

…can live up to 650 years and reaches heights of around 10 to 12 meters (33 to 39 feet).

The tree grows slowly, about one meter (3 feet) every ten years.

The dragon blood tree is a succulent, very hardy and drought tolerant. It enjoys warm temperatures and
sub-tropical conditions.

Like other monocotyledons, such as palms, the dragon blood tree grows from the tip of the stem, with
the long, stiff leaves borne in dense rosettes at the end.

It branches at maturity to produce an umbrella-shaped crown, with leaves that measure up to 60 cm
(23.6 in) long and 3 cm (1.2 in) wide.

Leaves appear only on the ends of the youngest branches, last for 3 or 4 years, then fall off and are replaced by a new set.

The dragon blood tree flowers around February. The flowers tend to grow at the end of the branches. The flowers have inflorescences, and they bear small clusters of fragrant, white or green flowers.

The fruits take five months to completely mature. The fruits are described as a fleshy berry, which changes from green through black to orange-red when ripe. The fleshy berry fruit contains one to three
seeds. The berries are usually eaten and dispersed by birds and other animals.

Despite their hardiness the Dragon’s Blood Trees of Yeman are threatened by climate change and the encroachment of human populations.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) classifies the population status of dragon blood trees as “vulnerable”. Although there may be several factors putting the population at risk, the major one is believed to be climate change. Grazing by domestic goats, extraction of the resin, and using the tree for firewood may play a smaller role in the tree’s problems. Other problems may be the increasing amount of development on the island, especially the creation of roads, as well as the increasing number of visitors.

Socotra Island has a generally dry climate but experiences periodic monsoons. The crown of the dragon blood tree channels rain and mist water to its roots very effectively. Unfortunately, the climate of Socotra Island is becoming drier and the monsoons less reliable.

For more photos and information I encourage you to read the whole story at Owlcation and Just Fun Facts.

Tree Tuesday

I’m a bit weary of big and old trees so this week I thought we’d take a look at something a bit different, the Rainbow Eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus deglupta) sometimes called the Mindanao Gum Tree

Painted Eucalyptus, photo credit Thomas

The Rainbow Eucalyptus is native to the Philippines and is the only species of Eucalyptus that’s native to the northern hemisphere. Like all eucalyptus trees it’s fast growing and it’s precisely all that growing that gives the tree its colour.

According to research by David Lee, professor at Florida International University and author of the book Nature’s Palette: The Science of Plant Color, the change takes place on the microscopic level. When the bark is stripped away, bright green chlorophyll is readily visible through a thin transparent surface layer that’s just one cell thick.

As time passes, reddish brown tannins build up in the surface layer, changing the apparent color. The chlorophyll beneath also dies down with time, creating the incredible fluorescent display that the tree is known for. The tree prefers wet, humid climates, and although the color can be observed anywhere, the display is brightest in the trees that grow in their native Mindanao.

What incredible trees. They can grow in excess of 60 meters and have been successfully introduced as decorative trees to many places including Hawaii and Florida. The trees like humid weather and do best when they’re their feet are wet. In their native Philippines the trees are used for pulp and paper making.

For more information and photos plus a short video I encourage you to check out the whole story at Treeographer.

 

Tree Tuesday

 

This week we continue looking at the oldest and biggest tress in the world, but instead of looking up we’re going underground to have a look at a root system. A clonal root system, to be exact. You’ve seen Old Tjikko, the oldest living clonal tree in the world, but old Mr. T is not the oldest living clonal system in the world. That honour belongs to Pando The Trembling Giant, a colony of Quaking Aspen trees in Fishlake National Park in Utah.

Pando is an ancient clonal root system and although the individual trees live for about 130 years the root organism itself is estimated to be 80,000 years old. Pando was alive when early humans were first migrating out of Africa and it would be about 65,000 years before human eyes even reached the Americas to see Pando.

Pando is more than a group of trees that have withstood the test of time. Pando is actually just one tree; all the aspens of Fishlake National Forest are part of the same organism…  Genetic testing has helped confirm that each tree in the forest is the same organism reproduced over and over again with only slight genetic variations.

Instead of spreading seeds, the clonal grove extends its roots in a process called “suckering.” New “trees” shoot up alongside the old ones, looking like new seedlings — but they actually belong to Pando’s extensive root system, which is why the different trees present nearly identical appearances. They’re essentially clones of the existing foliage.

Scientists believe that every tree in the Pando colony shares the same root system. The result is one of the largest and oldest living organisms on earth and a remarkably resilient forest. Pando’s deep, connected roots have allowed it to survive millennia of fires, droughts, climate shifts, and diseases.

Pando is big, too. It covers 107 acres and weighs in at an estimated 6,615 tons which makes it the worlds heaviest living organism. By comparison, a blue Whale is a lightweight at only about 200 tons. Pando is currently threatened by over-grazing of deer and elk, but a conservation project has been implemented and fences seem to be successfully working.

So there you have it. I think we can safely say that Pando is definitely the oldest and the biggest tree in the world.

Check out the full article and a few more photos at All That’s Interesting.

 

 

 

Tree Tuesday

Last week we looked at the oldest living clonal tree Old Tjikko in Sweden. This week we’re featuring the world’s oldest living individual tree, a 4,850 year old Bristlecone pine in California named Methuselah.

Named, obviously, after the Biblical figure that lived for 969 years, the Methuselah Tree grows in the Methuselah Grove, which is in Inyo National Forest’s “Forest of Ancients,” where it is surrounded by other ancient trees. The exact location of the tree, though, is kept secret to protect it against vandalism.

Methuselah has an estimated germination date of 2832 BCE, making it older than the pyramids of Egypt. The tree doesn’t exactly live under ideal conditions either. Bristlecone Pines live at high elevation with minimal soil and harsh winds, but they are perfectly suited for survival in this unwelcoming environment. Photos of the Methuselah Pine are not published and its location is kept a closely guarded secret due to concerns about possible damage by humans. The photo above is of a 3,500 year old specimen, just a youngster by comparison. There was an even older Bristlecone Pine named Prometheus that was accidentally destroyed by a grad student in 1964 while taking a core sample. That is a very big OOPS!

The story and more photos can be found at Atlas Obscura.

 

Tree Tuesday

This lonely Norway Spruce lives on top of Falufajallet Mountain in Sweden and is estimated to be about 9, 550 years old making it the worlds oldest tree. According to Atlas Obscura,

Located in Fulufjallet National Park, Old Tjikko began growing in this harsh tundra shortly after the glaciers receded from Scandinavia at the close of the last ice age. To put that into perspective, this lowly shrub was growing as humans learned to plow fields, domesticate the cat, and—2,000 years after it first took root—our ancestors begin learning to smelt copper.

Old Tjikko is part of a clonal organism and its age was determined by carbon dating of its roots. There’s a small path that leads to the tree and park rangers give free guided tours. It’s preferred that visitors not go unaccompanied. I’d say that people shouldn’t be allowed to visit at all except I’d like to go myself.

I may need to start a new bucket list just for the trees that I’d like to visit.

Tree Tuesday

Trees in the News: According to Vox, the trees at Joshua Tree National Park in California are now one step closer to extinction thanks to the current US government shutdown.

According to National Parks Traveler, visitors are creating illegal roads and driving into some of the park’s most fragile areas. They are also chopping down trees, setting illegal fires, and graffitiing rocks. With Joshua Tree being roughly the size of Delaware, the eight on-duty law enforcement rangers had no way to stop all the prohibited activity.

Joshua trees are already facing possible extinction, with scientists claiming that the Joshua Tree habitat will be lost to climate change by 2100. Smith told National Geographic in October, “We’re just in crisis mode right now.” Twenty days into the government shutdown, vandals are accelerating the trees’ demise.

Why? Why must people be so short-sighted and destructive? The article at National Parks Traveler notes that Joshua trees were cut down so that 4 wheelers could go around entrance gates. Once inside the trespassers continued their destruction, tearing up virgin desert, running over plants, camping in off-limits areas, leaving behind heaps of trash and generally behaving like 3 year olds high on sugar and let loose in a toy store with no supervision. It’s one more thing we can add to the list of things that Trump is destroying.