The Baobab trees of Madagascar
The Baobab trees are some of the oldest and strangest trees in the world. Some trees have been shown to be over 2,000 years old. Legend has it that the devil pulled the tree out and stuck it back in upside down, leaving the trees roots sticking up in the air. It is a drought tolerant tree, storing huge amounts of water in its huge trunk.
Swamp Cypresses, Caddo lake
The Taxodium distichum or Swamp Cypress is a deciduous conifer that, unusually for conifers, sheds its leaves. The oldest known specimen is located in Carolina, USA and is 1,620 years old, making it one of the oldest plants in eastern north America. The odorless wood of bald cypress has long been valued for its water resistance, thus is called ‘wood eternal’. Still-usable prehistoric wood is often found in swamps. In 2012 Scuba divers discovered an underwater forest several miles off the coast of Mobile, AL in 60 feet of water. The forest contains trees that could not be dated with radiocarbon methods since they are older than 50,000 years old, thus most likely lived in the early glacial interval of the last ice age. The forest contains trees so well-preserved that when they are cut, they still smell like fresh cypress.
Bristlecone Pines, Western United States
These amazing trees are among the longest lived life forms on earth. The oldest known is the Pinus longaeva which is 5,000 years old, making it the oldest known individual of any species. The wood is very dense and resinous, and thus resistant to invasion by insects, fungi, and other potential pests. The tree’s longevity is due in part to the wood’s extreme durability. While other species of trees that grow nearby suffer rot, bare bristlecone pines can endure, even after death, often still standing on their roots, for many centuries. Rather than rot, exposed wood on living and dead trees erodes like stone due to wind, rain, and freezing, which creates unusual forms and shapes.
Dragon Tree, Africa
The name of this beautiful tree has mythical origins: for his 11th labour, Hercules had to bring back three golden apples from the garden of the Hespérides, which is guarded by Landon, the hundred-headed dragon. Hercules killed Landon and his blood flowed out over the land, which began to sprout ‘dragon’ trees. The tree exudes ‘dragon’s blood’ – a red sap – when cut. It is native to the Socotra archipelago off the horn of Africa and is a slow growing tree and it is used in medicine, dyes, varnish and incense to this day.
Bottle trees, Socotra Island, Yemen
This tree is of the Cucurbuitaceae Plant family and the only plant in that genus to grow as a tree. That genus also includes Squash, Pumpkin, Zucchini, Watermelon, Melons and Cucumber hence it is also know as the Cucumber tree. A recent molecular phylogenetic analysis of the family Cucurbitaceae showed that the lineage of the tree is twice as old as the island it is native to. So it seems that it is an island relic of a tree that went extinct on the mainland of Yemen.
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