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

As the need for reforestation is global and ever-changing, we feature where trees are most needed now. For Treecember, we're planting trees that support a global forest fire recovery fund. Learn more

With your help, we will:

  • Reforest lands damaged by record-setting fires
  • Support healthy habitat for iconic biodiversity
  • Plant tree species that will help reduce future fire impact
  • This holiday season, we’re planting trees in areas around the world that have been severely affected by forest fires and aren't able to recover a healthy ecosystem on their own. The most common naturally-caused wildfires occur during droughts or dry weather, and under these circumstances, trees and other vegetation are converted to flammable fuel. Human-caused forest fires can be a result of various activities like unregulated slash and burn agriculture, equipment failure or engine sparks, and discarded cigarettes.

    After wildfires, reforestation is essential in areas where the fire intensity burned off available seed supply within the soil, and/or where there are not enough healthy trees still growing and producing new seeds nearby. Reforestation starts once professional assessments have been made to determine where human intervention would be the most ecologically beneficial. Help restore these vital ecosystems by planting a tree. 🌿
  • Every year, forest fires are increasing in size and severity, damaging vital ecosystems and creating a need for millions of trees. Some major consequences of forest fires include significant loss of wildlife, loss of vegetation, soil erosion, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

    With so much fire damage, reforestation is essential to catalyze the environmental recovery process. The trees are carefully planted to prevent invasive species from colonizing burn scars and restore quality habitat for native biodiversity. One Tree Planted is connecting with on-the-ground partners to establish viable reforestation projects when the recently affected regions are ready for planting. This fund will contribute to planting projects in British Columbia, Idaho, Ghana, Portugal, and beyond. Let's get to work! 🌲
  • 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.
  • To maximize the impact of your donation, our partners on the ground will determine the most appropriate species of tree and shrubs. We only plant native tree species that will restore the local ecosystem, re-establish wildlife habitat, and reduce the likelihood of future fires.

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