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August 23, 2009

10 Most Magnificent Trees in the World

Posted by : admin
Filed under : General Green

There are probably hundreds of majestic and magnificent trees in the world – of these, some are particularly special:

10. Lone Cypress in Monterey

Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey Cypress, Macrocarpa; syn. Callitropsis macrocarpa (Hartw.) D.P.Little) is a species of cypress endemic to the central coast of California. In the wild, the species is confined to two small populations, near Monterey and Carmel. These two small populations represent what was once a very large forest on the west coast. The surviving trees from this forest are as old as 2000 years. These small Cypress forest groves are protected, within Point Lobos State Reserve and Del Monte Forest. The natural habitat is noted for its cool, humid summers, almost constantly bathed by sea fog.

9. Circus Trees

Axel Erlandson (1884-1964) was an American farmer who opened a horticultural attraction in 1947 featuring his uniquely shaped trees. The attraction was eventually named “The Tree Circus.”

8. Giant Sequoias: General Sherman

General Sherman is the name of a Giant Sequoia with a height of 275 feet (83.8 metres). As of 2002, the volume of its trunk measured about 1487 cubic meters, making it the largest non-clonal tree by volume. The tree is located in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park in the United States, east of Visalia, California. The tree is believed to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old.

7. Coast Redwood: Hyperion and Drive-Thru Trees

Sequoia sempervirens is the sole living species of the genus Sequoia in the cypress family Cupressaceae (formerly treated in Taxodiaceae). Common names include Coast Redwood and California Redwood (it is one of three species of trees known as redwoods, but “redwood” per se normally refers to this species). It is an evergreen, long-lived, monoecious tree living for up to 2,200 years, and this species includes the tallest trees on Earth, reaching up to 115.5 m (379.1 ft) in height and 8 m (26 ft) diameter at breast height. It is native to coastal California and the southwestern corner of Oregon within the United States.

6. Chapel-Oak of Allouville-Bellefosse

The Chêne-Chapelle (Chapel-Oak) of Allouville-Bellefosse is the most famous tree in France – actually, it’s more than just a tree: it’s a building and a religious monument all in one. In 1669, l’Abbe du Detroit and du Cerceau decided to build a chapel in (at that time) a 500 years old or so oak (Quercus robur) tree made hollow by a lightning bolt. The priests built a small altar to the Virgin Mary. Later on, a second chapel and a staircase were added. Now, parts of the tree are dead, the crown keeps becoming smaller and smaller every year, and parts of the tree’s bark, which fell off due to old age, are covered by protective oak shingles. Poles and cables support the aging tree, which in fact, may not live much longer. As a symbol, however, it seems that the Chapel-Oak of Allouville-Bellefosse may live on forever.

5. Quaking Aspen: Pando (The Trembling Giant)

Pando (or The Trembling Giant) is a clonal colony of a single male Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) located in the U.S. state of Utah, all determined to be part of a single living organism by identical genetic markers and one massive underground root system, although whether it is the oldest living tree is disputed, as it depends of one’s definition of an individual tree. The plant is estimated to weigh collectively 6,000 tonnes (6,615 tons), making it the heaviest known organism. The root system of Pando is claimed by some to be among the oldest known living organisms in existence at 80,000 years of age, though the method used to produce this estimate (an estimate on when climatic conditions were last suitable for seedling germination) is not supported by current evidence of germination.

4. Montezuma Cypress: The Tule Tree

El Árbol del Tule (Spanish for “the Tule Tree”) is a tree located in the church grounds in the town center of Santa María del Tule in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, approximately 9 km east of the city of Oaxaca on the road to Mitla. It is a Montezuma Cypress (Taxodium mucronatum), or Ahuehuete (meaning “deep water”) in Nahuatl. It has the stoutest trunk of any tree in the world. In 2005, its trunk had a circumference of 36.2 m, equating to diameter of 11.62 m, a slight increase from a measurement of 11.42 m in 1982. However, the trunk is heavily buttressed, giving a higher diameter reading than the true cross-sectional of the trunk represents; when this is taken into account, the diameter of the ‘smoothed out’ trunk is 9.38 m. This is still slightly larger than the next most stout tree known, a Giant Sequoia 8.98 m diameter. The height is difficult to measure due to the very broad crown; the 2005 measurement, made by laser, is 35.4 m, shorter than previous measurements of 41–43 m. According to the signboard by the tree (see gallery, below), it has a total volume of 816,829 m³ and a weight of 636.107 tonnes; these figures are however not independently verified, and given the same signboard’s claim of a girth of 58 m, must be treated with suspicion. It is so large that it was originally thought to be multiple trees, but DNA tests have proven that it is only one tree. This does not rule out another hypothesis, which states that it comprises multiple trunks from a single individual. The age is unknown, with estimates ranging between 1,200 and 3,000 years, and even one claim of 6,000 years; the best scientific estimate based on growth rates is 1,433-1,600 years. Local Zapotec legend holds that it was planted about 1,400 years ago by Pechocha, a priest of Ehecatl, the Aztec storm-god, in broad agreement with the scientific estimate; its location on a sacred site (later taken over by the Roman Catholic Church) would also support this.

3. Banyan Tree: Sri Maha Bodhi Tree

The Banyan tree is named after “banians” or Hindu traders who carry out their business under the tree. Even if you have never heard of a Banyan tree (it was the tree used by Robinson Crusoe for his treehouse), you’d still recognize it. The shape of the giant tree is unmistakable: it has a majestic canopy with aerial roots running from the branches to the ground. Planted in 288 BC, it is the oldest living human-planted tree in the world, with a definitive planting date!

2. Bristlecone Pine: Methuselah and Prometheus, the Oldest Trees in the World

The bristlecone pines are a small group of pine trees that are thought to reach an age far greater than that of any other single living organism known, up to nearly 5,000 years. The oldest single living organisms known are bristlecone pines, though some plants such as creosote bush or aspen form clonal colonies that may be many times older. Recently, Swedish researchers discovered a self-cloning spruce in Dalarna that has been dated to just under 10,000 years old. The existing growth in clonal colonies sprang as shoots from older growth so there is an unbroken chain of life that sometimes dates back several tens of thousands of years. However, the original ancient growth in these colonies is long dead. The oldest bristlecone pines are single plants that have been alive for a little less than 5,000 years. These very old trees are of great importance in dendrochronology or tree-ring dating. The oldest (acknowledged) living organism known is a bristlecone pine tree nicknamed “Methuselah” (after Methuselah, the longest-lived person in the Bible). Methuselah is located in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains of eastern California, however its precise location is undisclosed by the U.S. Forest Service to protect the tree from vandalism. The age of Methuselah was measured by core samples in 1957 to be 4,789 years old. In the Snake Range of eastern Nevada Donald R. Currey, a student of the University of North Carolina, was taking core samples of bristlecones in 1964. He discovered that “Prometheus” in a cirque below Wheeler Peak was over 4,000 years old. His coring tool broke, so the U.S. Forest service granted permission to cut down “Prometheus”. 4,844 rings were counted on a cross-section of the tree, making “Prometheus” at least 4,844 years old, the oldest non-clonal living thing known to man. The other two species, Pinus balfouriana and Pinus aristata are also long-lived, though not to the extreme extent of P. longaeva; specimens of both have been measured or estimated to be up to 3,000 years old. It is rumored that a specimen older than “Methuselah” has been discovered, but this has not been widely publicized.

1. Baobab

Baobab is the common name of a genus containing eight species of trees, native to Madagascar (having six species), mainland Africa and Australia (one species in each). The mainland African species also occurs on Madagascar, but it is not a native of that island. Other common names include boab, boaboa, bottle tree, upside-down tree, and monkey bread tree. The species reach heights of 5 to 30 metres (16 to 98 ft) and trunk diameters of 7 to 11 metres (23 to 36 ft). An African Baobab specimen in Limpopo Province, South Africa, often considered the largest example alive, has a circumference of 47 metres (150 ft) and an average diameter of 15 metres (49 ft). Some baobabs are reputed to be many thousands of years old, which is difficult to verify as the wood does not produce annual growth rings, though radiocarbon dating may be able to provide age data. The Malagasy species are important components of the Madagascar dry deciduous forests. Within that biome, A. madagascariensis and A. rubrostipa occur specifically in the Anjajavy Forest, sometimes growing out of the tsingy limestone itself. Beginning in 2008, there has been increasing interest for developing baobab as a nutrient-rich raw material for consumer products.

Bonus : The Lonely Tree of Ténéré

The Tree of Ténéré or L’Abre du Ténéré was the world’s most isolated tree – the solitary acacia, which grew in the Sahara desert in Niger, Africa, was the only tree within more than 250 miles (400 km) around. The tree was the last surviving member of a group of acacias that grew when the desert wasn’t as dry. When scientists dug a hole near the tree, they found its roots went down as deep as 120 feet (36 m) below to the water table! Apparently, being the only tree in that part of the wide-open desert (remember: there wasn’t another tree for 250 miles around), wasn’t enough to stop a drunk Libyan truck driver from driving his truck into it, knocking it down and killing it! Now, a metal sculpture was placed in its spot to commemorate the Lonely Tree of Ténéré.

credited to wikipedia
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