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We’ve all heard of going on holiday for the expressed purpose of bird watching. Aficionados travel all over the world just to see a particular bird that lives only on one continent. But, have you ever heard of “plant spotters”? Indeed, there are people who travel all over the world to see unusual plants that are not found at the local nursery.
Giant Redwood Trees
Located in the Western United States is the tallest tree in the world. The amazing thing about this? It was only discovered in 2006! The Hyperion is a giant redwood tree, and is 115.72 metres tall. Helios is only 1 metre shorter, followed by Icarus at 113.4 metres and Daedalus at 110.76 metres. These unbelievable natural wonders. The Hyperion is only about 600 years old, and is growing quite well at this time. While you are in California visiting the Greek giants, don’t miss the giant sequoias in the Sequoia National Park. At a puny 83 metres high, it is 24 metres around and is a youthful 2000 years old.
If you have always wondered what it would be like to visit an alien landscape, visit Socotra Island. This hot, dry location in the Indian Ocean may not be your idea of a beach comber’s paradise, but the white sands lead you to 700 rare species of plants and animals. Over 250 of these species are found on the island. The Dragon’s Blood tree, for instance, which appears to be a pine tree with a distinctive “flying saucer” shape – a dome of green on top, and an intricate network of branches beneath.
Also on Socotra Island you can see the – um, beautiful – Desert Rose. This plant looks for all the world like an elephant went belly-up and started growing cherry trees out of its feet. Add to that the fact that the ballooned appendages grow straight out of bare rock, and you definitely feel like you are on a weird, 1970s “trip”.
No list of unusual plant sightings is complete without reference to the Baobab tree. Western Australia is home to some of the most incredible baobab trees, including the Prison tree. The trunk is so massive that it was hollowed out and – yes – used to hold prisoners overnight before being delivered to their prison.
Well, that a bit hard to pronounce, but Brazilians love the fruit that grows – get this – on the TRUNK! They look like little tears being extruded through the bark. The fruit is used much like grapes are used, either eaten or made into wine or juice. The tree will get hairy, white blooms and produce black fruit several times a year.
The rainbow eucalyptus grows naturally in the Philippines. As it sheds its bark, bright green bark beneath is revealed. As the bark is exposed to oxygen and sunlight, it ages to blue, then purple, then orange and brown. All of these colours are displayed at the same time, considering that the trees shed irregularly.
For you plant spotters out there like myself, you’ll be tempted to take some of these home with you, but these aren’t indoor plants! Either way, you could spend a lifetime simply pursuing amazing trees!