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Double Amputee Turns Barren Hills into Lush 17,000-Tree Forest

Ma Sanxiao, a 70-year-old double amputee and army veteran from Jingxing, North China’s Hebei province, has pent the last 19 years of his life planting thousands of trees and turning the once barren hills surrounding his village into a small forest.

Ma was diagnosed with blood poisoning in 1974, while serving in the Chinese Army. His condition got worse after he retired, and eventually had both legs amputated because of it – his right leg in 1985, and the left one in 2005. After seven major operations and constant medical treatments, he could barely afford to take care of his family, and ,because of his disability, finding a job proved very difficult. His veteran subsidy was enough to cover his medicine, but he couldn’t remain idle, so in 2000, after getting inspired by another tree-planting story on TV, the double-amputee started planting parasol trees in the barren hills around his remote village, with the intention of selling them for profit.

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Tree Growing in the Stands of a Football Stadium Is Local Team’s Most Famous Supporter

The Resistencia Sport Club, a small football club in Paraguay’s second division, is the first in the world to make a tree growing in the stands of its stadium an official supporter, even offering it a membership card and complimentary jersey.

Resistencia’s evergreen supporter is as old as the club, so both the team and its human supporters consider it part of their history. It was around back when the stadium was a mere football field in the middle of a wasteland, so 20-years ago, when the club decided to built concrete stands for its fans, it never even considered the possibility of cutting down their oldest supporters. Instead, they asked the architects and engineers in charge of the project to come up with a solution that would allow it to thrive. So they built the stands around it, allowing human fans to watch home games in its shade. A couple of years ago, when Resistencia celebrated its 100th anniversary, management decided to honor the tree by making it an official member of the club, complete with its own member card and jersey.

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Indian “Tree Man” Planted Over 5 Million Trees to Cope with Tragedy

Vishweshwar Dutt Saklani took his last breath on January 18, 2019, but he will live on in the memory of his countrymen as the “Tree Man of Uttarakhan”, a dedicated conservationist who planted over 50 lakh (5 million) trees and turned his once barren homeland into a lush forest.

Saklani had been fond of trees all his life. He planted his first sapling when he was eight years old under his uncle’s guidance, and kept at it for the next seven decades of his life, until he lost his sight and succumbed to the hardships of old age. However, by that time, the once barren hills in and around his native village of Pujargaon had already become home to a lush forest. Vishweshwar Dutt Saklani’s love for trees is well known, as he often used to call them his children or his closest companions, but few know that the legendary conservationist planted millions of trees to cope with the tragedies in his life.

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The Rare Rainforest Tree That Bleeds Metal

Pycnandra acuminata is a rare tree native to the shrinking rainforests of New Caledonia that has the rare ability to collect large quantities of nickel from the ground. Its blue-green sap reportedly contains up to 25% nickel.

Trees, or plants in general for that matter, and heavy metals like nickel and zinc don’t really go well together, and that’s what makes Pycnandra acuminata and a few other rare tress species known as “hyperaccumulators” so special. They have somehow evolved to suck out normally toxic levels of heavy metals from the soil and store it in their stems, leaves and seeds. Unfortunately, heavy deforestation in New Caledonia has put this remarkable tree on the list of endangered trees before scientists could even figure out how and why it can tolerate such high quantities of nickel in its latex-like sap.

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The Mysterious Bent Trees of North America

To the casual observer, the thousands of bent trees scattered throughout the North American continent look like mere freaks of nature, deformed by the elements of disease, but a more careful analysis reveals that these trees bend sharply into right angles, parallel the earth, which suggests that they were intentionally shaped long ago, for an unknown purpose.

Bent, splintered or otherwise deformed trees are not exactly uncommon, but the so called “trail trees” still growing in many US states have a very specific shape. At about four or five feet above the ground, their trunks bend sharply forming right angles, parallel the earth, and then sharply bend upwards once again. Various accidents can cause this shape to occur naturally, but another distinctive trait of these mysterious trees is that they feature no scars in their bent areas. While scientists have yet to agree that this is proof that the trees were purposely bent by humans centuries ago, there are many who believe that the bent trees were once used as markers by hunters and gatherers to help them find their way around the vast wilderness.

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Europe’s Oldest Tree Is At Least 1,230 Years Old And Still Growing

A team of researchers studying a national park in southern Italy recently discovered the oldest tree in Europe ever to be scientifically dated – a Heldreich’s pine that is at least 1,230 years old and still growing.

Nicknamed “Italus”, the ancient tree was discovered on a steep mountain slope in Italy’s Pollino National Park by a team of researchers from the University of Tuscia, led by Gianluca Povesan. As soon as they saw Italus, researchers knew that they had stumbled upon an ancient specimen, but they didn’t expect it to be the oldest tree ever discovered on the European continent. Even more surprising was the fact that despite its age – a whopping 1,230 years, at least – and an almost non-existent canopy, the tree seemed to be thriving, with heavy ring growth added to its trunk over the last several decades.

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700-Year-Old Tree Infested with Termites Gets IV Drip Treatment

I always thought intravenous treatments only worked on humans and animals, but apparently they do wonders for sick trees as well. The world’s second-largest Banyan tree is currently being treated against a termite infestation, with an IV drip.

Known as “Pillalamarri” or “Peerla Marri”, the 700-year-old Banyan tree in Mahabubnagar, India’s Telangana state, spreads across three acres, making it the second-largest of its kind in the world. It’s also in danger of being eaten alive by termites, which have already brought down some of its largest branches. Public access to the tree was restricted in December of last year, as desperate authorities scrambled to come up with a way to save one of a’s biggest tourist attractions.

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Crown Shyness – When Trees Avoid Touching Each Other

Crown shyness or canopy disengagement is a mysterious natural phenomenon in which the crowns of some tree species do not touch each other, but are separated by a gap clearly visible from ground level. The effect usually occurs between trees of the same species, but has also been observed between trees of different species.

The Crown Shyness phenomenon was first documented in scientific literature during the 1920s, but researchers have since not been able to reach a consensus regarding its causes. There are many theories going around in scientific circles, most of which make sense, but no one has been able to prove without the shadow of a doubt why some trees avoid touching each other. But perhaps it’s this mystery, along with its striking appearance, that makes crown shyness such a fascinating phenomenon.

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The “Forest Man of Bangladesh” Has Been Planting a Tree Every Day for the Past 48 Years

They say that one man can’t make a difference, but Abdul Samad Sheikh, a 60-year-old rickshaw driver from Bangladesh, is living proof that small contributions over a long period of time can mean very much. He has planted at least one tree every day since he was 12-years-old, which means that he has so far planted a small forest of over 17,500 trees. Imagine if everyone followed his example.

Abdul Samad Sheikh, fondly known as “Tree Samad” in his native town of Faridpur, central Bangadesh, has worked as a rickshaw driver for most of his life. The modest job earns him about 100 taka ($1.25) per day, which is barely enough to put food on the table for his family, but he somehow manages to also buy at least one tree from the Faridpur Horticulture Centre, every day. He considers it his duty to the world, and claims he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if he didn’t plant a tree that day.

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Stunning Celtic Cross Discovered in the Middle of Irish Forest

There is an impressive landmark growing in the middle of Donegal Forest, Ireland, but you could walk right through it and not even though it’s there. This newly-discovered ‘hidden treasure’ only reveals it beauty when seen from above.

The giant Celtic Cross of Donegal recently made international headlines after footage shot using a drone went viral on the internet. Filmmaker Darren Sheaffer was working on a project at the Bogay Walled Garden, outside Newtown Cunningham, when it was mentioned to him that there was an amazing sight hidden in the nearby forest of Donegal. So he took a walk there, launched his drone, and what he saw took his breath away. Right in the middle of the woods was a giant Celtic cross about 100 meters long and 70 meters wide, made up of a different type of tree than the rest of the forest. Donegal’s drone video went viral as part of an ITV report on the unique landmark, and has since been doing the rounds on the internet.

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This Ukrainian 220-Year-Old Apple Tree Has a Very Unique Way of Staying Alive

The city of Krolevets, in Ukraine’s Sumy region, is home to the world’s most unique apple garden, consisting of only one tree. Spanning 10 acres, the 220-year-old tree – known as ‘apple tree colony’ – has dozens of individually rooted trunks that constantly spring to life, making it seemingly impossible to die.

The tree seems to have worked out a brilliant survival strategy, and it looks prepared to survive for centuries to come. It started off as a regular tree, but as it aged, its branches bent so low to the ground that they started to take root as well. Every time one of the ingrown trunks dies, its branches immediately bend to the ground and take root. It had only nine trunks in 1970, but that number had doubled by 2008.

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The Manchineel – World’s Most Dangerous Tree for Several Reasons

The Manchineel tree, native to the Western Hemisphere, is known as the most poisonous tree in the world. In places where it grows – Florida, the Caribbean and the Bahamas – the manchineel is often marked with a red band to warn passersby not to get too near it.

The tree is poisonous on so many levels that if you ever spot one, it is better you stay at least a few yards away from it. Its fruit resembles a small apple, but eating one could land you right in the emergency room. It was supposedly named ‘manzanita de la muerte’ (little apple of death) by Christopher Columbus. But it might just be the least dangerous part of the tree.

The manchineel’s milky white sap is incredibly caustic and poisonous as well – even a drop could cause skin blisters, dermatitis, swelling or burns. This happens a lot with unsuspecting travelers who use the tree for shelter from the rains. The sap is so caustic that even the rain drops coming from the branches can cause burns. The bark is poisonous too – burning it releases a smoke that causes temporary (and in some cases, permanent) blindness. Considering all the ways it can hurt you, it’s no wonder the manchineel currently holds the Guinness record for world’s most dangerous tree.

manchineel-tree

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Tree Shaping – The Art of Turning Young Trees into Living Works of Art

Who said you need to chop the wood off trees to make sculptures? Tree shaping is an art form that makes use of living trees to make wonderful creations. Also known as Biotecture, Grown Furniture or simply tree sculpting, the technique involves growing and shaping the trunks of trees and other woody plants by grafting or pruning. The trunks or branches are grown into ornamental or useful shapes.

Tree branches and trunks have the unique ability to unite together by grafting. The new shapes are retained when fresh layers of wood grow over the older ones. So a tree sculptor winds two or more parts of a tree together by cutting off the bark and then binds the wounded parts together so that the contact is secure. This promotes the tree parts to grow together. These stems and branches need to be wound together for at least a year depending on the amount of resistance they need to overcome. Additional layers of wood grow during this time, acting as a natural cast and retaining the new desired shape. Once the shape is able to hold itself, the bracing is removed. The techniques used by artists vary between Instant Tree Shaping, also known as Arborsculpture (mature trees bent into the desired shape and held until cast), Aeroponic Culture (the use of living, air-suspended roots to make bridges) and Gradual Tree Shaping (trees are grown from saplings for the specific purpose of creating a design).

Arborsculpture

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Artist Twists Aluminum Wire into Beautiful Tree Sculptures

I find it fascinating how some artists can turn rigid materials into works of art that seem almost organic. Case in point, Kevin Iris, a man who creates beautiful tree sculptures exclusively from aluminum wire.

A self-proclaimed “treenut” Kevin Iris has been making incredibly detailed tree sculptures from aluminum wire for the last 23 years. His works vary in shape and size, as he’s trying to inspire different emotions with each one, but the most remarkable thing that’s common to all of them is that they are made only out of twisted wire. That means he uses no glue, coatings or any other substances. he simply takes tens of feet of aluminum wire and twists them into a variety of shapes. As you can imagine, Kevin’s artistic process is very laborious and time-consuming. For example, talking about the aluminum tree n the photo below, the artist says “I average about 26 leaves per strand so I have about 10,062 leaves up there on the top. This [22-inch wide] tree took about 450 hours or so of hands on twisting wire time over four months.” Pretty remarkable stuff…

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7 Bad-Ass Trees You’ll Probably Never Climb

I remember reading an article on Environmental Graffiti, a few months ago, about the thorniest trees on Earth. The photos were really impressive, considering I had no idea such trees even existed, but I felt there wasn’t really enough information about these amazing species of trees. So I took it upon myself to do some research and came up with seven bad-ass trees you couldn’t even hope to climb without some serious protective gear.

Silk Floss Tree (Ceiba Speciosa)

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