9 Weird, Wonderful and Otherworldly Forests On Planet Earth

Joseph Coppolino and Meaghan Weeden | October 25, 2021 | 5 min read

Some forests you have to see to believe

From Australian lyrebirds, natural mimics that can repeat virtually any sound they hear to the pouty-lipped galapagos batfish that haunts equatorial oceans deep, the discerning observer will find that nature can be stranger than fiction. And while bright red lips on a deepwater fish may seem entirely unnecessary, in nature, there's a reason for everything. In order to thrive, entire ecosystems adapt to their respective environments in some extraordinarily bizarre and mind-bending ways.

Fans of all things weird and wonderful will be pleased to know that trees and forests are no exception to this. So, in the spirit of the unusual, here are a few of the most amazing earthbound trees and forests you’ll want to believe in.

discover 9 weird and wonderful forests that could be straight off of another Planet

deadlvei tree desert

1. Deadvlei, Namibia

Though technically not a living forest, the trees of the Deadvlei in Namib-Naukluft Park in Namibia are a strange sight to behold. Deadvlei, which means ‘dead marsh’, is a clay pan surrounded by some of the highest sand dunes in the world. These dunes used to fill up with water when the nearby river flooded, allowing trees to grow in the middle of the desert. Some 900 years later, the area has completely dried up leaving just the ‘corpses’ of these trees totally intact. In fact, the climate is so dry the trees don’t even decompose. After nearly a millennia of baking in the hot desert sun, the trees are scorched and blackened like an eerie post-apocalyptic wasteland.

crooked forest poland

2. Crooked Forest, Poland

You’ve obviously seen trees that grow straight up. You may have even seen trees that grow on an angle. But have you ever seen trees that grow in a near perfect semi-circle?That’s what you'll find in a section of forest outside the small town of Gryfino, Poland. Some 400 pine trees have grown in the shape of a slanted J, all of them with the belly of the J pointing North. Even more strange: they're surrounded by trees happily growing in the old fashioned manner, straight up towards the sky.  From tanks rolling over them during WWII, to strange gravitational pull, to humans bending the trees themselves to make curved wood for boats, many theories have been posed. But in the end, no one really knows why they're bent. 

dragon blood trees desert

3. Dragon Blood Trees, Yemen

Trees that bleed? Now that’s straight out of the Twilight Zone. The Dragon Blood trees on the Yemeni island of Socotra are some of the most unique and abstract looking vegetative species on the planet. Their umbrella shape, made up of thick plentiful branches make the trees look like gigantic, dried-out broccoli sprouting up from the desert landscape. The trees get their name from the blood red resin they produce, which has been used for medicine (for diarrhea, wounds, ulcers, and fever), dye, and as a stimulant for thousands of years. Pretty amazing, right?

sunken forest

4. Sunken Forest, Kazakhstan

Kind of the exact opposite of the Deadvlei, the Sunken Forest in Kazakhstan is made up of tree trunks jutting out of Lake Kaindy’s surface. After a landslide caused by an earthquake in 1911 formed a natural dam, rain and river water from the surrounding mountains filled the newly formed lake and drowned the trees. Now all that remains above the water are limbless tree trucks protruding skywards like a series of telephone poles. However, below the water’s surface, a whole new habitat has grown. The submerged portions of the trees are now covered in a wide variety of algae and other water plants, creating the illusion of a dense underwater forest. One habitat lost, another gained!

goblin forest new zealand

5. Goblin Forest, New Zealand

New Zealand is a fantastical land of mountains, forests, and some of the most incredible biodiversity — like hobbits! No, not really. But they do have a Goblin Forest! The forests of Egmont National Park are something out of a fairy tale. The twisted and gnarled branches of the native Kamahi trees are almost completely engulfed by moss, lichen and other hanging vegetation. Sitting at the base of a volcano, an eruption around 400 years ago felled most of the forest. This gave the Kamahi trees an opportunity to take over and thrive. The hardy tree enjoys starting off its life growing on the surface of other plants, fallen branches, and brush.

rainbow eucalyptus forest

6. Rainbow Eucalyptus, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippines

Native to the rainforests of the Philippines, Indonesia and Papua, New Guinea, Rainbow Eucalyptus trees are almost too beautiful to be real. With striking multicolored bark that could be straight out of a Dr. Suess book, they're truly a sight to behold! An evergreen with spear-shaped, silvery-green leaves and tiny white flowers, these trees have bark that grows in vibrant shades of green, blue, orange, red and purple. As the bark grows, it constantly peels off in strips to reveal new colors and create new patterns. In their native environment, these trees can grow to over 200 ft tall, sometimes shooting up by 5 ft in a single season. 

avenue of the giants madagascar

7. Avenue of the Giants, Madagascar

Towering above like massive pillars leading to an otherworldly castle, Madagascars Grandidier's baobabs line the dirt road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina in the Menabe region of western Madagascar. The "Avenue of Baobabs," as it's known, is considered the most beautiful road in Madagascar. These massive ancients — many are over 800 years old with trunks over 150 feet around — create a scene so beautiful and unique that they attract visitors from across the globe. In addition to being truly majestic, Baobab trees are incredibly useful — their trunks can be tapped harmlessly for water during the dry season, their young leaves can be eaten in salad, and their fruits contain a nutritious pulp that is consumed across Africa as part of a popular summertime beverage.

dark hedges northern ireland

8. Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland

This tunnel of beech trees found in County Antrim, Northern Ireland gives off some seriously spooky vibes. Planted back in the 18th century to impress visitors (welcome and unwelcome) approaching the Georgian mansion Gracehill House, they certainly make an impression. Taking their spooky nature to another level, the Dark Hedges are featured in HBO's Game of Thrones, where they represent the Kingsroad — the road leading from Kings Landing to Castle Black — which makes this fictional road sinister from beginning to end. 

hoia baciu forest romania

9. Hoia-Baciu Forest, Romania

Considered to be the "most haunted forest in the world", the Hoia-Baciu forest, or the "Bermuda Triangle of Romania" is located to the west of the city of Cluj-Napoca, near the open-air section of the Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania. Filled with warped trees that lend it an eerie atmosphere, it's no wonder that it has captured the imagination of people for centuries. According to local legends, ghosts and spirits lurk among the trees. People have been known to disappear within the spooky grove and reappear years later, a la Rip Van Winkle, with no recollection of where they had been. To add to the intrigue, there have been UFO sightings and reported alien encounters here, too! For this reason, thrill seekers from around the globe visit for spooky forest adventures. 

Plant a tree to help Keep Forests Weird

The forests of Earth truly are amazing, and this list only cracks the surface of the weird and wonderful world of nature's diversity. You don't have to look far to find more of the beautiful oddities Mother Nature has to offer.

Though not nearly as strange, our planting projects around the world make sure the forests of the world offer just as much awe-inspiring nature as New Zealand's Goblin Forest, or Sunken Forest of Kazakhstan. Want to help keep our forests weird? Plant a tree today!

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

As the need for reforestation is global and ever-changing, we feature where trees are most needed now. Today, we're raising funds to jumpstart forest fire recovery in British Columbia. Learn more

With your help, we will:

  • Restore landscapes damaged by a historic season of wildfires
  • Create habitat for iconic biodiversity like the moose and grizzly bear
  • Support old-growth management areas to maintain complex ecosystems
  • This reforestation initiative is helping to restore the landscape in British Columbia after the Hanceville fire burned over 590,000 acres in 2017 and natural regeneration has not occurred. The fire has impacted the forest, soils, riparian ecosystems, wildlife, and water quality. Local indigenous communities have seen their ability to hunt and gather food drastically altered. But your support will go a long way! The goal of planting trees here is to not only re-establish a healthy forest, but also to plant species that will be resilient in the face of climate change. Thank you so much for your support of healthy forests! 🌲
  • Planting trees will catalyze the process of returning the area to a forested state. Newly planted trees will begin the process of sequestering atmospheric carbon, and over time improve the hydrological benefits of the forest. The ecosystems that have been greatly simplified by extreme fire conditions will once again become complex ecosystems, This project will also create habitat for many local wildlife species including mule deer, moose, black and grizzly bear, wolves, sandhill cranes, various raptors, songbirds, and small mammals.
  • A personalized tree certificate (see gallery) to say thanks for your donation. We'll also send you updates about this project, so you can track the impact your trees are having on the community and environment.
  • B.C.'s rich forest diversity includes more than 40 different species of native trees, with some of Canada’s most interesting and valuable tree species. In this project, we made efforts to maximize species diversity, including the following species: Douglas-fir, lodgepole pine, hybrid spruce, ponderosa pine, trembling aspen.

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