Growing quickly and dying relatively young, the poplar tree is the James Dean of trees. What’s with the name? Back in Roman times, the trees were frequently planted around public–or popular–meeting places, giving rise to its scientific genus name of Populus.
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Surviving through famine, war and unsavory political regimes, this image of a tree’s life brings to mind a passage from Milan Kundera’s “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting”: “So Mother was right after all: tanks are mortal, pears eternal.”
Peeking out above the Sequoia National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountain range is a tree aptly called “The President”. The tree extends an incredible 247 feet–or over 20 stories–into the sky and needs to be seen to be truly understood.
Despite its rather uninviting appearance, the Indian Ocean archipelago-dwelling Dragon Blood tree has been used in everything from lipstick to breath fresheners, fever reduction concoctions and even toothpaste.
Most people have tossed a coin into a fountain, or dropped a penny down a wishing well, hoping by some miracle that the act would make their wish come true. In the touristy village of Portmeirion, located in Gwynedd, North Wales, staff noticed some peculiar trees covered with coins. By examining the trees and learning their origin, the employees brought to light information about the traditions and superstition surrounding wishing trees.
If you’re looking for some of the most bizarre trees the world has to offer, head to Madagascar where you can find six of the eight species of Baobab tree. Resembling something that you might find on Mars, the Baobab ranges in height from 15 to 98 feet tall and can have a circumference as wide as 154 feet. Some claim that the largest of these trees are thousands of years old; that, of course, is hard to prove traditionally since the wood of these trees doesn’t produce growth rings.