July 25, 2019 10 min read

Love learning about just how incredible nature really is? You've come to the right place!

Trees all around the world have been visited, worshipped, and celebrated. Oftentimes there is some extraordinary quality that draws people to connect with certain trees, such as their beauty, longevity, medicinal qualities, or even mythical legend passed down through generations. These natural wonders have also been known to spark inspiration for poetry, stories, and art. Do you have a favorite tree species? If not, you might have one after reading this.

Here are 15 trees around the world that will surely amaze you! 

1. Mangroves 

Trees with exposed roots at the edge of the ocean

Mangrove forests are a group of trees and shrubs that live along sheltered subtropic and tropical coastlines. The species of trees that exist in mangroves have a unique capability of growing within reach of the tides in salty soil. They must also adapt to soil that lacks oxygen since often the roots are submerged under water.

Mangroves are also part of the most biologically complex ecosystems on the planet. They provide food and habitat to thousands of living things. Beneath their roots in the water they provide protection for fish and other aquatic creatures. Many fish will spend a majority of their young lives among the roots to avoid predators. Mangroves also play a very important role in protecting coastlines from storms and rising waters - which is becoming increasingly vital due to climate change.

2. Kapok Tree 

Green tree trunk with spiked thorns

Yikes, spikes! Kapok (Ceiba pentandra) are very large trees when fully matured. They can grow up to 230 feet high and up to 10 feet in diameter. They are also very noticeable for their huge buttresses coming from the trunk, which are large roots that stay above land. Probably the most recognizable thing  is their large thorns. These thorns protect the tree from animals attempting to eat its thin bark. 

The Kapok is also known as the Silk Cotton Tree because it produces pods full of fluffy fiber with seeds inside. The fiber is light so that the seeds can be carried away by the wind. This fiber has also been used to fill lifejackets, sleeping bags, pillows, and mattresses. The Mayan people of Mexico and Guatemala consider it a sacred tree and it is also the national tree of both Puerto Rico and Guatemala. It is kind of a big deal in the tree world! 

3. Juniper Trees in Sedona, Arizona 

Tree in a canyon with a twisted trunk

Check out these Juniper trees in Sedona, Arizona. Why do you think they twist like that? Maybe it’s to get more sun, but many locals and tourists believe it is due to mystical energy that comes from vortexes! What is a vortex? A vortex is believed to be an electromagnetic earth energy center that aids in meditation, self-exploration, and healing. While many people are skeptical as to whether a vortex is real, nearly 3 million people visit Sedona, Arizona every year to see if they can benefit from the healing energy. Many say they leave feeling recharged and inspired.

A physical sign that you are near a vortex is the twisting of a Juniper tree. Believers say that the Juniper tree uniquely twists along with the swirling energy of a vortex. If you spot these twisty trees you just might be in the presence of a vortex. Or, it is possible that the tree has been hit with strong winds.

4. Angel Oak Tree 

Huge oak tree with long limbs that touch the ground

Whoa, now that's an incredible tree! The Angel Oak Tree is located on St. John’s Island, South Carolina, and is one of the state’s most visited landmarks. It is said that the Southern Live Oak could be one of the oldest living things east of the Mississippi coming in at over 500 years old! Because of its age, the tree is above average in height reaching over 65 feet high. Its longest branch reaches out 187 feet and some branches even drill back into the ground and begin to grow back upward. 

Known by many locals as “The Tree”, members of the community and visitors find a deep respect for the oak. So much so that in 1991 there was a huge public support for the City of Charleston to purchase land surrounding the tree to ensure that no future developments put the tree in jeopardy. Whether it is its massive size or the folklore surrounding the tree, many visitors are said to have profound feelings when they approach this tree, wouldn't you?

5. Socotra Dragon Tree

Three trees in a desert landscape

The Socotra Dragon Tree, also known as a Dragon Blood Tree can only be found on the island of Socotra, Yemen, which is located at the center of the Arabian Sea. Out of 825 species found on the island, 37% are endemic meaning they can only be found in this one location. Visually the tree is very unique with its umbrella shape and exposed branches that reach for the sky. Its shape allows for the tree to collect and absorb mist that passes over the island.

What makes this tree even more interesting is the red resin inside of the tree’s trunk, which is the reason it is called the Dragon Blood Tree. Local legend says that the first Dragon Blood Tree was created from the blood of an injured dragon that had been fighting with an elephant. When the tree is sliced open, it will actually bleed a deep crimson color. The resin has been harvested for hundreds of years for medicine, varnishes, and dyes. Only experienced harvesters are allowed to extract the resin from the tree as it puts the tree at jeopardy if it is not done correctly.

6. Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree 

Tall tree with rainbow bark

WOW, just look at those colors! The Rainbow Eucalyptus tree is often referred to as a “living work of art” because of the array of colors that it displays. The tree sheds bark in vertical strips which reveal a bright green color. The green begins to morph into other brilliant colors such as blue, purple, orange, and maroons. Areas of the tree shed at different times causing the tree to look like a Rainbow! 

Scientifically, very little research has been done to explain WHY the tree changes colors. Researchers believe that when the bark sheds, the tree’s chlorophyll is then exposed which gives off the bright green color. As the top surface ages it begins to fill with pigments called tannins. A combination of the tannins and aging chlorophyll could explain why the Rainbow Eucalyptus is one of the most colorful trees in the world.

7. Tibetan Cherry Tree

Tree trunk with red shiny bark

Would you look at the color of that bark?! The Tibetan Cherry Tree is known for its gorgeous red coppery bark and pretty yellow foliage in the fall. It is not an easy tree to plant because it is susceptible to borers and diseases but the tree’s beauty could be worth the chance! This tree is native to western China and you guessed it, Tibet. It is considered an ornamental tree because it is usually planted for its beauty. In the spring the tree blossoms with delicate white flowers. It does produce cherries but they are not edible.

The Tibetan Cherry Tree is a great addition to parks and urban areas because it has a high tolerance for pollution. It is also a very fast growing tree which means it tends to shed its bark frequently but will shed less if you peel it by hand. Pro tip: you can brighten the bark with a wet sponge!

Photo Credit: Ramon Arizmendi

8. Aspen Tree

Mountains with snow caps and many yellow trees

Let's take a moment to talk about how awesome ASPEN TREES are! Did you know that they can actually stop wildfires from spreading? They have a higher water content and provide a lot of shade which allows for there to be cooler underbrush. Unlike pine, they also do not have chemical compounds that make them more flammable. 

When aspen are able to flourish in the forest they create natural fuel breaks. That is, they create barriers to stop a fire from spreading. During wildfires, if firefighters see that the fire is approaching a community but there is one of these aspen barriers in between they can set up nearby to try to put out the fire. And after a fire they still thrive! Isn't that so cool? That's why Aspen is one of the tree species we're planting in British Columbia to mitigate the spread of wildfires. 

9. Sagano Bamboo Forest 

Walking path surrounded by tall thing green bamboo trees

All that green must be good for the soul! The Sagano Bamboo Forest is located on the outskirts of Kyoto, Japan. Visitors come from all over to visit the must see destination. One of the greatest draws to this bamboo forest is the soundscape that can be heard. When the wind passes through the tall slender trunks it creates tranquil noises of the trees knocking and leaves rustling. 

Located right outside of the forest are major temples of Kyoto. Oftentimes Buddhist temples and shrines can be found near bamboo groves because bamboo is often a symbol of good luck and strength. When the sun shines through the densely packed trees it creates a stunning visual display. Is the Sagano Bamboo Forest on your bucket list? 

10. Strangler Fig at Ta Prohm 

Large tree with roots growing into an ancient concrete building

This photo really makes you realize the strength of a tree! This is Ta Prohm, a Buddhist monastery and center of learning that was built in 1186! As you can see this Strangler Fig tree has taken over the structure. The buildings were abandoned by humans but the forests of Cambodia wasted no time moving in. Many silk-cotton and strangler fig trees can be found rooted and winding in loosened stones of the temple. 

The structure was built as part of a larger temple called Angkor Wat. In the early 20th century French Archeologists rediscovered the buildings. While it may look like an untouched gem in the forest, it is actually maintained to ensure that visitors can safely witness its beauty. Isn't it amazing?!

11. Sequoia Tree 

Woman standing in front of very large trees

That's a really big tree. In California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range you'll find some of the planet’s largest trees. Sequoiadendron giganteum, or the giant sequoias. These grand trees can live up to 3,000 years! Their branches can be up to 8 feet in diameter and their bark can be 3 feet thick. Some sequoias are as tall as a 26-story building. Does that put these amazing trees in perspective?

Aside from how massive they are, sequoias are very tough too. They are able to resist fungal rot, wood-boring beetles, and their thick bark is perfect for warding off fire. This is why they are able to live for so long. On top of all of that, they are home to MANY living things.

12. Trees of the Oyamel Forest

Many orange butterflies clumped together in tree branches

Can you imagine a forest entirely filled with butterflies?! It’s a thing! The Oyamel Forest in Mexico serves as a overwintering sanctuary for Monarch Butterflies from Northeast America in the winter. MILLIONS of butterflies migrate there each year! It is not completely clear how the butterflies know how to get there but scientists believe it is a mixture of a magnetic pull from the earth and the positioning of the sun. 

The butterflies only travel during the day making it necessary for them to roost during evening hours. They find rest along the way among pine, cedar, and fir trees whose canopies are bushy enough to create warmth. The butterflies will also gather into big clumps among the trees in order to keep warm. In the morning they will warm themselves in the sun and continue onto their destination to The Oyamel Forest. Once they arrive to the forest they will reside there from about October to March. Here they find the ideal temperatures to get through the winter. Should the temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit the butterflies are able to use fat reserves to keep warm. Doesn’t it look magical? 

Photo Credit: Howie Garber 

13. Sakura Blossom Tree

Pink flowering trees lining a pond

The Sakura or Cherry Blossom Tree belongs to the sub family Rosaceae. Although the tree can be found in the United States it originally comes from Japan where it is the most planted and beloved tree. The tree usually reaches peak blossom in mid March and signifies springtime for many. 

A favorite past time in Japan is to sit beneath the blooming tree to eat and drink with loved ones. This is called Hanami which means to look at the flowers. Which essentially is what you are doing while sitting beneath the tree. The tree has deep meaning as well. For instance, the flowers signify spiritual beauty and education. Doesn’t a picnic beneath all that delicate pink in the beginning of spring sound delightful?

14. Trees of The Dead Vlei

Trees with no leaves in a desert

The Dead Vlei translates to “dead marsh” and is located in the Namib-Naukluft National Park in the central Namib Desert. It is among some of the tallest dunes in the world. The Dead Vlei once had a river draining into it which nourished the trees that lived there. However, over 900 years ago the surrounding dunes and drier climate blocked the river from getting into the Dead Vlei. 

Even though this was unfortunate for the trees, a gorgeous landscape with contrasting colors was created. When the river no longer drained into the marsh it actually became so dry for the trees that they couldn't even decompose. This is why today we see the scorched trees that form a barren forest. These trees are now over 1,000 years old! Some call this place the 8th wonder of the world.

15. Ponderosa Pines at Bryce Canyon, Utah

Canyon landscape with green trees

Within Bryce Canyon’s crevices you will find one of the Southwest's tallest trees, the Ponderosa Pine.  It can grow as tall as 200 feet  with huge trunks that are 3-4 feet in diameter! If you have the opportunity to wrap your arms around one of these big trunks you will be surprised to find that the tree smells like vanilla or butterscotch! 

They can grow along mesas, inside canyons, and are sometimes found growing off cliffs.  Oddly enough, Ponderosas need forest fires to survive because they keep more shade-tolerant trees from taking over their habitat. Smaller ponderosas probably will not survive a fire but the larger trees have a fighting chance. In fact, even if one has been burned badly or lost its needles the tree can still survive thanks to its super flame retardant bark.

We need more cool trees! 

It is very important that we conserve these and all trees alike! One way we can do that is by continuing to focus on conservation and reforestation around the world. So why not plant a tree or two? After all, the more trees the better! 

We plant trees on 4 continents around the world. Want to choose where yours are planted?

by Kaylee Brzezinski

Nature Enthusiast

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