Often times, when we think of art and design, the man-made world dominates our thoughts, – but nature gives us the greatest inspiration to create above all else. This world is in a constant state of creation and degeneration, of evolution and extinction, which gives us an entire spectrum of beauty and abomination from which to glean our ideas. Nothing is weirder than what nature can create – in fact, we spend generations trying to grasp exactly why things occur. We need to quantify the existence of the natural world to feel somehow in control. Why not let go and let your imagination soar with the amazing world that surrounds us? Let’s start by looking into our own backyards.
Lately I’ve been fixated on the strangest and most bizarre elements that our natural world has given us and I’ve recently come across some incredible images of odd trees from around the world, so I thought I’d share.
My all-time favourite is the Baobab. I would love to have the chance to visit Madagascar and see them towering over the landscape. To me, they are one of the most magical-looking trees on earth. Baobabs reach heights of 5 to 30 m (16 to 98 ft) and have trunk diameters of 7 to 11 m (23 to 36 ft). Baobabs store water inside the swollen trunk (up to 120,000 litres / 32,000 US gallons) to endure the harsh drought conditions particular to each region. Some hollowed out baobabs have been used as anything from prisons to wine bars, and one was even converted into an outhouse!
The Dragon Tree, found in the Canary Islands is also really cool looking. When the bark or leaves are severed they secrete a red resin, one of the sources of the substance known as Dragon’s blood, used to stain wood, just like that used to stain Stradivarius violins. It also traditionally has numerous medicinal uses.
The Silk Cotton Tree in Cambodia is an incredible sight to behold. It consumes buildings and many specimens have grown to gargantuan proportions in both height and width. The temple of Ta Prohm is the most popular place to view these tentacled giants.
The Tree of Life resides in Bahrain and is around 400 years old and boasts one of the deepest root systems worldwide. The Mesquite tree is now a local tourist attraction, as it is the only major tree growing in the region and is viewed by approximately 50,000 tourists every year. It is also believed to be the site for cults practicing ancient rites.
El Arbol de La Sabina is in the Juniper family, which, when distilled, provides us with gin. This specific tree can also be found in the Canary Islands, an autonomous region of Spain. The wood is really compact, fine-grained, super tough, yellowish-brown or reddish and extremely aromatic. It can grow in most soils and climates and gets its appearance from being pushed over by the rough winds that cross the ocean.
The Tree of Tule is a Montezuma Cypress tree. It has been said that it has the stoutest trunk of any tree in the world. Located in the church grounds in the town center of Santa María del Tule in the Mexicanstate of Oaxaca, in 2001 it was placed on a UNESCO tentative list of World Heritage Sites.The age is currently still unknown, with estimates ranging between 1,200 and 3,000 years. One claim of 6,000 years has also been made.
The Bottle Tree is a strange poisonous one that grows along the rocky hills of semi-deserts, such as Namibia. It has a weird bottle shaped trunk and very few branches covered in thorns up to 30 cm long. It was widely used as a blinding toxin for arrow tips while hunting.
To see the 50 weirdest trees in the world, check out this site.
Bukisa also has an interesting article on strange trees from around the world.
Here are some more interesting trees that have been manipulated by man:
The Oak Chapel Tree, Alouville, France
Axel Erlandson’s Circus Tree, Santa Cruz, California
Axel Erlandson’s Arborsculpture, Santa Cruz, California
The Chandelier Tree, Leggett, California
King’s Gardens, Copenhagen