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A World of Majestic Trees

Updated on August 9, 2014

Hug a Great Big Tree - Or Try To!

May 16th is Love a Tree Day.

For at least this one day of the year, turn your love and attention towards those majestic, gentle giants of the forest, parkland or backyard that are so vital to our survival. Yes, it's the woody and gnarled old tree.

We couldn't do without trees, and we certainly take them for granted, so let's celebrate this wonderful day by going up to any tree - not a bush, plant or thicket - and give it a big hug.

Do you know which species is the tallest, widest and oldest? If not, you soon will. I have come across so many lovely, some weird, some spindly - but they are all worthy of our love. So, put away your axes and chainsaws, from now on they are unwelcome.

And, by the way, all 3 polls have the correct answer fully explained, a few modules below each in turn - - so, don't be disheartened after voting!

Think: tree. - Mr. Miyagi, The Karate Kid

This lens was created on 8 May 2012

A Silly Celebration for a lesser known holiday - not silly to me!

Photo: © 2011 Rob Hemphill

A Love of Trees

Nature's lungs

My love of trees started when I was just a boy. Like many young boys, a tree was there to be climbed and investigated, and I did just that. From carving names to whittling sticks and making catapults, we did it all.

Later on, it was building tree-houses with old scraps of lumber that gave us hours of pleasure. Or swinging from a majestic branch on a homemade swing.

Now it is nature photography that consumes my interest, so whether it's the tree itself, the millions of tiny creatures that live within it, the fungii, mosses or canker growths, or the subtle and delicate leaves, they all have me in awe.


Oldest Individual Tree - Image is NOT of the oldest tree!

Hugged for Centuries

Image credit: By OSU Special Collections Archives

"Its arms have withered and fallen, but its mighty heart is still strong , and the sap still flows in its trunk."

The answer to the oldest tree is here...

What species is the oldest individual tree in the world?

See results

"A tree is a wonderful living organism which gives shelter, food,

warmth and protection to all living things. It even gives shade to

those who wield an axe to cut it down"

~ Buddha

Oldest Known Individual Tree

Did you get the oldest individual tree question above correct?

A bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva)

The Great Basin Bristlecone Pine is one of those long-living species of tree that is found in the high mountain areas of the southwestern part of the United States. This species of tree is related to those known as bristlecone pines, of which one member with a name of "Methuselah", is the oldest known living non-clonal organism on Earth.

The photo of the bristlecone pine above shows both live and dead parts, and streaked grain colors on the broad trunk. This pine is located along the Methuselah Trail, Schulman Grove of bristlecones, White Mountains, in California.

Image credit Wikipedia

Old Tjikko - Norway Spruce

Old Tjikko is a 9,550 year old Norway Spruce tree, located on Fulufjället Mountain in Sweden. This tree is the world's oldest living individual clonal specimen, however, there are several other examples of considerably older clonal colonies. These trees are connected by a common root system, one such example is "Pando" - a Quaking Aspen in Utah - is estimated to be more than 80,000 years old.

Old Tjikko appeared in a stunted shrub formation for thousands of years, because of the harsh environment in which it lives. As the weather started to warm up in the last century, the tree began to sprout into a normal tree formation. Leif Kullman was the man who discovered the tree,and he is in n o doubt that this spurt of growth is because of global warming. He named the tree "Old Tjikko" after his dog.

The visible part of the tree looks young, but it is the root system that is extremely old. When one trunk dies, another will soon grow up in its place.

Pando - Quaking Aspen

Pando is located within the Fishlake National Forest, close to Fish Lake on the western edge of the Colorado Plateau in South-central Utah. This aspen grove has flourished for most of its lifetime due to forest fires, which have reduced the competition from the conifers. With a complex underground root system, the organism is able to regenerate new stems after intense fires.

Some experts say that the organism is nearer a million years old, however, as there are no rings to count for precision, this has to be a shot in the dark.

Images of Old Tjikko and Pando from Wikipedia

Aspen Trees Near Mcclure Pass

Gunnison National Forest, Colorado, USA

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Axel Erlandson (1884-1964), a Swedish American bean farmer had an extraordinary hobby of shaping trees. He pruned the trees, grafted and layered them into various shapes and called them "Circus Trees".

For this example of arborsculpture, named the "Basket Tree", six sycamore trees were planted in a circle, then Erlandson grafted and wove them together as they grew, so creating the diamond patterns.

This form of tree sculpture soon became an attraction, and it wasn't long before Erlandson contacted Robert Ripley of "Ripley's Believe it or Not! to request a listing in the magazine. Visits increased, putting the Tree Circus firmly on the tourist map.

In 1985, the trees were moved to Gilroy Gardens in California.

More about the pioneers of arborsculpture.

Photo credit: jpeepz, Flickr

"God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone,

but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars."

~ Martin Luther

Forest of Beech Trees, c.1903

Gustav Klimt

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Tannenwald (Pine Forest), 1902

Gustav Klimt

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The Tree of Life, Stoclet Frieze, c.1909

Gustav Klimt

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A Tree in Winter

I have photographed this particular tree so many times, and in all seasons. But there is something virginal about this winter scene, or for that matter, almost any photographic subject covered in a white pristine veil of ice or snow.

Photo by Rob Hemphill

Fall Sunlight Colors - For a Bright Hug!

Photo: © 2011 Rob Hemphill

There is something so wonderful when nature offers it's array of fall colors, some greens, some reds, some yellows and some browns. Once you've set your eyes on an afforested mountain view at this time of year, you'll never forget it.

This photo was taken in the Blue Ridge mountains of western North Carolina.

This little saying came from Ronald Reagan when he was California Governor.

A tree is a tree - how many more do you need to look at.

A Koala Bear Hugs a Tree

While Her Baby Clings to Her Back

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'Up a gum tree' has a number of meanings. The one used most often is 'in great difficulties'. Some of the other meanings that come to mind are 'with great speed' and 'in a state of contentment'.


The original phrase was 'like a possum up a gum tree'. This alluded to possums escaping up trees having been chased by hounds. So, perhaps the possum could be said to be in difficulty as it couldn't escape, OR relaxing contentedly because the hounds weren't able to catch it. Whichever way you look at the situation, the creature would have probably shown its turn of speed, as it rushed up the tree in the first place.

The gum tree is also known as the Eucalyptus in Australia, and the Black Gum in North America.

The saying 'up a gum tree' is normally thought to be Australian. Eric Partridge, a noted etymologists states it like this, "that may be so, it certainly sounds Australian, but the earliest citation of it in print I can find is from the USA, in a 1829 edition of American Speech is...

"Dere's possum up de gum tree."

Dreaming Tree Red

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There is something enthralling about the world of bonsai trees, I expect it's our love of many things small. This Japanese tradition goes back well over a thousand years.

The purpose of bonsai is all about contemplation for the viewer, provided by the grower, who has excercised his effort and ingenuity in the production. It was never intended for anything other than pleasure, it is of no food value, neither is it used for medicinal purposes.

The best friend on earth of man is the tree: when we use the tree respectfully and economically we have one of the greatest resources of the earth.

~ Frank Lloyd Wright

Tallest Tree

Waiting for a hug

I couldn't resist taking this photo in a good friend's garden - it makes one smile.

The answer to the tallest tree is here...

What is the tallest tree in the world?

See results

Stainless Steel Tree - For a Contemporary Hug! - Roxy Paine "Graft", 2008-2009 National Gallery of Art, Washington

Photo: © 2010 Rob Hemphill

On a visit to Washington D.C., while walking through the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, we came across this amazing piece of art. It's a tree made entirely from stainless steel, weighing in at a hefty 16,000 pounds (8 tons, US).

The location provides a peaceful, outdoor setting for exhibiting several pieces of contemporary sculpture from the Museum's collection. The Sculpture Garden balances art and nature within an urban setting, only half a mile from the US Capitol.

It's hard not to Love this Tree!


Graft presents two fictive but distinct species of trees - one is gnarled, twisting, and irregular, the other smooth, elegant, and rhythmic - joined to the same trunk.

The ever-present tension between order and chaos.

Roxy Paine is an American sculptor who created Graft as part of a series of "Dendroids" - tree-like sculptures - some of which also appear in the following locations:

  • New York - On the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Seattle - in the Olympic Sculpture Park
  • Fort Worth, Texas - outside the Museum of Modern Art

Read more about "Graft" here...

The tallest tree on Earth

Photo credit: Humpalumpa, Flickr

Did you get the tallest tree question above correct?

Measuring trees has often been unreliable, but since laser rangefinders have been around, more accurate readings have been achieved. In the past, results of tree heights had frequently been over estimated due to inaccurate readings. Saying that, there are several gigantic trees in redwood forests, many of which are in the tallest range.

Common names of Sequoia sempervirens include Coast Redwood, California Redwood, and Giant Redwood. As an evergreen tree, this species can live between 1200 and 1800 years or even more.

General Sherman stands at a height of 83.8 metres (275 ft), and a diameter of 7.7 metres (25 ft). The estimated net weight of this magnificent specimen is 2,100 tons. Unfortunately, these redwoods are very valuable as lumber, and that's why so many have been destroyed by loggers, from these ancient forests.

What used to be the tallest tree species

Historic records show that the Mountain Ash or Blue Gum species in Australia (1872) was said to have been in the region of 350-500ft tall - but remember what I said about old forms of measurement earlier! Read more here...

Composite of the World's Tallest Tree

The Green, Golds and Reds of Fall

This photo was taken in the Blue Ridge mountains in the eastern part of North Carolina.

Four Trees, 1917

Egon Schiele

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Mulberry Tree, c.1889

Vincent Van Gogh

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Widest Tree

My wide tree at home!

A misty morning in Ireland - no really wide trees here!

The answer to the widest tree is here...

In what country is the widest tree in the world to be found?

See results

African Baobab Tree

Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

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Baobabs (Andansonia Grandidieri )

Morondova, Southern Madagascar

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Tree Hugging...

...for better health and wellbeing!

Believe it or not, tree hugging after all, does have some scientific validity. Yes, touching trees can make you healthier, and you don't have to touch the tree to get the effect, just be in its vicinity.

In this recently published book, Blinded by Science, Matthew Silverstone conducted numerous scientific tests on how trees improve various health issues, such as mental illness, depression, headaches, concentration levels and reaction times, as well as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Blinded by Science

Having brought up three children with plenty of green spaces and trees all around, I am in no doubt that this contributed to their health and wellbeing in a big way. In one of the trees we made a small treehouse, which gave them hours of fun - not to mention the enjoyment it gave 'the builder' (me)!

Countless studies have shown that children show significant psychological and physiological effects in terms of their health and well-being when they interact with plants. They demonstrate that children function better cognitively and emotionally in green environments and have more creative play in green areas.

Quote and image from Planetsave

Read more at the Blinded by Science website.

The Life & Love of Trees

The Life & Love of Trees
The Life & Love of Trees
After reading a review of this book, I bought a copy as a gift. This is one of the most stunning books on nature that I've yet found. The photos are breathtakingly beautiful, while the text is so compelling and well written. This is a literary masterpiece to be enjoyed over a lifetime. This book is one to be shared with the special people in your life as a gift - especially nature lovers!

Widest Tree in the World

Yes, this is ONE tree!

Did you get the widest tree question above correct? Yes, it's in India.

When I first saw this tree, I thought it was a forest of trees, but no, this 250 year old Great Banyan is just one tree, and it's located in Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden, Howrah in India.

In terms of width, the canopy occupies an area of around 14,500 square metres (4 acres or 1.5 hectares), with a circumference of about 1 kilometre.

Little is known about the history of the tree. In 1884 and 1886, two large cyclones damaged it, by breaking off a few of its main branches which exposed the tree to a hard fungus attack.

The main trunk of the tree became diseased, and was excised in 1925, to allow the existing growth to remain healthy. The tree continues to spread, and today it has over 3,300 aerial roots which reach down to the ground.

Both images by Biswarup Ganguly (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This extraordinary tree, called The Tree of Tule is growing in church grounds in a small village in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. It is renowned for having the stoutest trunk of any tree in the world, with a circumference of 119 ft (36.2 m). This gives it a diameter of around 38.1 ft (11.62 m). In 1982, the trunk diameter was 37.5 ft, so it has grown considerably since then.

The age of the tree is not known, but estimates have been put at anything between 1,200 and 3,000 years. The Giant Sequoia comes in next in size with a 29.5 ft (8.98 m) diameter trunk.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Oak Tree, Sunset City, California, 1932

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Brighten up your computer desktop with this wallpaper, available from

Just think how much wildlife there would be in a tree like this. If you were a bug, wouldn't you want a home like this?


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