Trees are the longest living organisms on earth and one of the planet’s most valuable natural resources. They purify the air we breath, improve water quality, prevent erosion of soil, provide food and shade, reduce noise pollution, and help make our surroundings more beautiful. With over 200,000 types of trees in world, there is no shortage of interesting species. From tallest to oldest, most haunted to most inhabitable, here are the top 9:
Coast redwoods, not to be confused with Giant Sequoias, are the tallest trees in the world. The towering champion of all Coast Redwoods is a tree called Hyperion. Measuring over 379 feet ( 115 m) tall, Hyperion beat out the previous record holder, the Stratosphere Giant, in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park (at 370 feet / 112.8 m). In addition to having the world’s largest trees, Northern California is home to two Coast Redwoods in Leggett, California, that are wide enough to drive straight through! The most well known drive-through tree is the Chandelier Tree at 315 feet tall and with a 6 by 9 foot tall hole cut through its base.
As the world’s largest trees in terms of volume, Giant Sequoias only grow in California’s Sierra Nevada region. Among this cluster of voluminous trees is the largest of them all, the General Sherman. General Sherman stands at 275 feet (83.8 m) high, over 52,500 cubic feet of volume (1,486 m³), and over 6000 tons in weight. This massive tree is 2,200 years old and each year it adds enough wood to make a regular 60-foot tall tree!
Pando, which means, “I spread” in Latin, couldn’t be a more perfectly-suited name for this particular species of tree. The Pando is a clonal colony of single male Quaking Aspen, which are all part of one unifying living organism and massive underground root system. Collectively, this plant as a whole, weighs 6,000 tons, making it the heaviest species in existence and the roots system of the Pando is one of the oldest living organisms known on the planet at about 80,000 years old.
The Chêne Chapelle, meaning “chapel oak,” in French is the most famous tree in France. More than just a tree, this living species is also a building and religious monument. Inside its hollow trunk are two chapels, which were built in 1669. There is also a spiral staircase built around the trunk, which provides access into the chapels. Sadly, the oak tree which the building was built around may not live much longer, as parts of the tree have been dying and falling apart for years. Old bark that had previously fallen off is now used as covering for parts of the natural structure. Even if the tree doesn’t make it, it seems this religious monument will live on forever.
Also known as the “Monkey Bread Tree,” the Baobab can grow up to nearly 100 feet (30 m) tall and 35 feet (11 m) wide. Their trunks are actually water storage and can store as much as 31,700 gallon (120,000 l) of water to endure harsh drought conditions. Though Baobab is found in Africa and Australia, they are Madagascar’s national trees. Groups of the most majestic baobab trees can be found on Baobab Avenue, near Morondava, in Madagascar.
Bristlecone Pines, located in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California are the oldest (non-clonal, acknowledged) living trees known to man today, up to at least 5,000 years. Swedish researches recently discovered a self-cloning spruce in Dalarna that has been dated to just under 10,000 years old, but the Bristlecone is still the oldest, non-clonal tree species. Methuselah is the oldest recorded Bristlecone located in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains of eastern California and is said to be 4,789 years old. This tree was named after Methuselah, the longest-lived person in the Bible.
A southern, live oak, the Angel Tree is located on one of South Carolina’s Sea Islands, John’s Island, and thought to be one of the oldest living organisms east of the Mississippi River. The tree derives its name from the Angel estate and local folklore told of stories of ghosts of former slaves that would appear as angels around the tree. Just like the trees haunting past, it is hauntingly beautiful.
This isn’t a particularly large tree, nor is it very old (about 200 years), but the isolated juxtaposition of this lonely tree next to the rocky, cold Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Pebble Beach, Monterey, California, makes for a breathtaking and stunning visual experience. The Lone Cypress is one of many vista points on Monterey, California’s 17 Mile Drive (also on the drive is the famous Ghost Tree), which is a must-see tourist attraction if visiting the breathtaking, Monterey coastline.
El Tule is an exceptionally large Cypress living in Oaxaca, Mexico. This tree has the largest trunk girth at 190 feet (58 m) and trunk diameter at 37 feet (11.3 m). It is believed that this tree is between 2,000 and 3,000 years old, but was relocated and replanted 1,400 years ago by a priest of the Aztec storm god.
Trees are some of the most diverse specimens on the planet, however they also share many similarities. For one, no tree dies of old age. They are generally killed by insects, disease or by people. 90% of their nutrition from the atmosphere and only 10% from the soil, and the death of just one 70-year old tree would return over three tons of carbon to the atmosphere. The trees above represent some of the most interesting and majestic of all living tree species in nature, however it should be mentioned that this list is ever growing and changing. There are thousands of other extraordinary species, perhaps even some that we have not discovered or that have not properly been identified by science, in existence today.