Everywhere, trees are looked over and seen as generic, casual, and a mere fact of the world. While trees are in our yards, city streets, parks, forests, and everywhere in between, we often fail to recognize and appreciate the true beauty and uniqueness of our woody earth-mates.
When traveling across the country, Americans seldom stop to appreciate the 'generic' trees that line highways and cities until autumn brings fall foliage to these trees in many parts of the nation. If you look in the right places you will find unique trees that possess the ability to shift your perspective on the perennial plant altogether. If you are looking for a new view of trees or are simply sick of the old oak in your front yard, here are 8 places across the United States that house some of the worlds most extravagantly unique trees!
1. Lahaina, Maui; The Banyan Tree
On a sunny day, the Banyan Tree is everyones best friend. Providing shade to nearly an acre of land, this 148 year old tree stands sixty feet tall and has a total of sixteen trunks. Lahaina Banyan Court Park now surrounds the expansive tree and is a centerpiece in the community.
2. Utah; Pando Aspen Tree Grove
Named after the Latin word "Pando" which means "I spread", the trees found here are all a part of the largest living organism in the world. With a connected root system, these quaking aspen trees are all technically one, despite appearing as a group of many.
This tree is at the top of many lists. Weighing an estimated 6 million kilograms, it is considered the heaviest organism in the world. Additionally, Pando is estimated to be several thousand years old which makes it one of the oldest living organisms. If you are ever in Pando, feel free to jokingly point out that you're not in a forrest... its simply one tree!
3. Tulare County, California; General Sherman Tree
Named after Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman, this 275 ft tall tree is the largest tree on earth when measured in volume. Every year, visitors flock to Sequoia National Park to see the giant 2,500 year old tree that hosts a whopping 36 foot diameter as one of its main attractions.
4. New York, New York; The Survivor Tree
After the devastating attacks that took place on September 11th, 2001, a callery pear tree stood strong amongst the rubble and destruction. While this tree remained standing, it was badly damaged and was moved to a nursery in the Bronx until it eventually could be placed at the National September 11 Memorial where it now stands as a sign of resilience and bravery. While there are countless landmarks and tourist destinations to see in New York City, do not pass up the opportunity to see one of the most resilient trees on earth! Make sure to use our Travel Map to add New York City to your travel bucket list!
5. Redwood National Park, California; Redwoods
The Redwood might be one of the most culturally popularized tree on this list! While the General Sherman Tree is marked as the largest, the Redwoods are known to be the tallest in the world, growing to a thrilling 367 feet. Fossil records tell us that these trees prospered during the Jurassic Era– 160 MILLION years ago. While the dinosaurs that roamed around the base of these trees are long gone, the famous Redwoods are still around today as a reminder of what our world was once like. Although California is home to dozens of bustling cities and beaches, don't fail to recognize the gargantuan beauty that lies within Redwood National Park.
6. Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas; Bald Cypress Trees
With their interestingly wide trunks that provide stability and support, Bald Cypress Trees are native to the coastal swamps of the Mississippi Valley. These trees are frequently sought after and harvested for their wood to be used in furniture and decorative pieces. Sometimes, these cypress trees are planted purposely for show as decoration. Found not only in Big Thicket National Preserve, the bald cypress trees can be seen in Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve and the Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas.
7. Yosemite National Park, California; Ponderosa Pine
Yosemite National Park is home to countless wonders of nature such as El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and so many more. If ever in the park, don't miss out on seeing the epic Ponderosa Pines.
Reproducing through seeds in cones, the ponderosa pine is the most widely distributed pine species in North America and can be found in parks all around the country. In 1953, 145 ponderosa pine trees were cut down and transported to a nuclear testing site where they were planted into the ground and used to test the impact of a nuclear blast on a forrest. Hopefully this experiment will never turn into a reality!
8. Joshua Tree National Park, California; Joshua Tree
Ok, I will admit that number eight isn't technically a tree. Where Colorado and the Mohave Desert meet, this member of the Agave family perseveres through a climate many trees cannot withstand. Depending on an adequate amount and perfect timing of rain as well as a cold winter, Joshua Trees can grow to be 40 feet tall and even grow flowers on their branches. In Joshua Tree National Park, these trees give the otherwise flat and rocky land a lively touch.
Whether or not you travel to any of these destinations to see the trees or another attraction, be cognizant not only of the importance of trees in our world and ecosystem, but also the beauty of many trees across the country. When I finally make it to Hawaii, you will find me enjoying the nurturing shade underneath the Banyan Tree in Maui! See you there :)