You would be forgiven for having never heard of Socotra island, let alone one of its endemic trees. Part of Yemen, this archipelago is slowly drying out, causing concern for its many unusual plants. It’s predicted that the available habitat for this particular dragon tree might decrease by almost half by 2080.
Kapok Tree (Ceiba pentandra)
Growing as tall as 200ft, this emergent tree towers above surrounding rainforest in its neotropical home. Interestingly its white and pink flowers produce a foul odour to attract bats for pollination, though you are unlikely to ever smell them so far above the forest floor.
Baobabs, Madagascar (Adansonia sp)
There’s lots of legends about why the Baobab looks the way it does. Our favourite is that ‘when the Baobab was planted by God, it kept walking, so God pulled it up and replanted it upside down to stop it.’ But the iconic image of a lone baobab hides a sad history, they are often the only trees left after a once rich forest is cleared by fire.
Giant Redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum)
No list would be complete without the world’s largest single trees. Among the oldest living things on earth, they take hundreds of years to mature and weather dozens of raging forest fires in a lifetime. Tragically, the sawmills of the industrial revolution were just too much, and only 68 known groves still survive today.
Antarctic Beech (Lophozonia moorei)
Very few beech species grow in the Southern Hemisphere, although fossil records suggest they evolved here millennia ago. Antarctic beech is an exception, growing in a small number of locations in Australia, some individuals are over 12,000-years-old. Worryingly, it is thought that they become less able to reproduce as temperature increases, boding ill for future climate change in the region.
Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)
A beautiful species undoubtedly, but it’s a single tree that justifies its inclusion in this list. Unusually, that tree has a name: Pando. Pando is a male quaking aspen that has been growing clonally underground through a massive root system in Utah, USA. It covers 43 hectares, weighs 6000 tons and has over 40,000 trunks. The roots are thought to be 80,000 years old!
Japanese cherry (Prunus serrulata)
Grown around the world for their incredible displays of pink and red blossom, the beauty of these trees really speaks for itself. As the symbol of Japan, the emergence of blossom in Spring is celebrated with numerous festivals.
Black Poplar (Populus nigra)
A medium sized fairly nondescript tree for much of the year and common in Europe and Western Asia. The real surprise comes in Autumn when it erupts from hillsides like a fiery yellow torch 30 metres high.
Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani)
A huge evergreen tree, large specimens grow almost as wide as they are tall. They once grew in vast hillside forests in Lebanon, but many of these have vanished due to over exploitation. Extensive replanting projects are now underway however in Turkey and Lebanon. Give it a century or so, and these forests might once again be among the most impressive on earth.
Bigleaf Magnolia (magnolia macrophylla)
The genus Magnolia is extremely old, and are thought to resemble some of the first large flowering plants. If you have ever seen a large specimen in full bloom then you might think these plants have reached perfection. This particular species is native to the southeastern United States, though there are many rare Magonlias around the world.
Trees are often overlooked in favour of more charismatic mega fauna (normally critters with fur and four legs). But just as there are endangered animals in need of conservation, many tree species are under threat too. Here’s 10 of the most iconic trees from around the world, to remind us that these magnificent species need our love and attention too.