May 08, 2019 4 min read

Some forests you have to see to believe...

Scully and Mulder investigated some pretty strange happenings during their careers with the FBI, most of it paranormal or extraterrestrial.

But while the two X-Files agents were out investigating other-worldly mysteries, right here on Earth, Mother Nature was cooking up some weird and wonderful mysteries of her own.

In order to thrive, entire ecosystems adapt to their respective environments in some extraordinarily bizarre and mind-bending ways. Trees and forests are no exception!

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.

dead tree standing among red sand dunes in namibia

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.

curved trees in a forest in poland

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 get 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 is that they are surrounded by trees happily growing in the old fashioned manner, straight up towards the sky.

Many theories have been leveled as to why the trees have grown in such a bizarre manner. From tanks rolling over them during WWII, to strange gravitational pull, to humans bending the trees themselves to make curved wood for boats.

In the end, no one really knows why they are bent. One of Mother Nature’s fun little mysteries!

a dragon blood tree from yemen

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.

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!

mossy and gnarled tree trunks in new zealand

Goblin Forest, New Zealand

New Zealand is a fantastical land of mountains, forests, and some of the most incredible biodiversity such as 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 as the hardy tree enjoys starting off its life growing on the surface of other plants, fallen branches, and brush.

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. 

Check them out and help keep our forests weird!


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

by Joseph Coppolino

Organic Content Creator & Enviro-fabulist



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