9 of the World's Most Amazing Trees

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The pillars of life

Photo: Larry & Teddy Page/flickr

Trees frame life, providing shade, oxygen, food, homes, heat and of course, building materials. Trees are universal, they house our swings and tree houses; they overlook our first kisses and marriage proposals. There are an estimated 100,000 different species of trees comprising a quarter of all living plant species around the world.

Spread among the billions of trees around the globe are a few special ones, especially worthy of attention. Here are seven of the world's most amazing trees.

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Giant Sequoia: General Sherman

Photo: Bryan Siders/flickr

General Sherman makes the list for being ... huge! This redwood tree is located in Sequoia National Park in California and is believed to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old. It towers about 275 feet above the ground, is the largest non-clonal tree in the world by volume, and is more than 100 feet around at the base.

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Quaking aspen: Pando

Photo: Ken Lund/flickr

Pando, or the Trembling Giant, is a remarkable massive colony of a single quaking aspen trees spread over more than 100 acres in Utah. Every tree in the area shoots from a single organism, and they share a giant underground root system. It's estimated that Pando collectively weighs 6,615 tons, making it the heaviest living organism on the planet.

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Montezuma Cypress: The Tule Tree

Photo: Eduardo Robles Pacheco/flickr

The Tule Tree, or El Árbol del Tule, is a Montezuma cypress tree on the grounds of a church in Santa María del Tule in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. It measures more than 119 feet around but is only 116 feet high (To put that in perspective, the General Sherman is 275 feet high and 102 feet around). It's believed that the tree is about 2,000 years old. Local legend holds that the tree was planted 1,400 years ago by a priest of the Aztec storm god. According to National Geographic, it is the inspiration for an annual festival in Oaxaca celebrated on the second Monday of October.

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Yellow Meranti: 'Minecraft Tree'

Photo: Stephanie Law

The world's tallest known tropical tree — the height of 20 London double-decker buses or 65 people standing on each other's shoulders — was discovered recently in a rain forest in Malaysia. Nearly 294 feet high, the yellow Meranti tree is a species that can be grown in the computer game Minecraft. The only way to measure the exact height of a tree that tall is to climb it. Tree expert Unding Jami ran into problems when he reached the top, according to the University of Cambridge, which led the expedition. Jami confirmed his measurement, then texted, "I don’t have time to take photos using a good camera because there’s an eagle around that keeps trying to attack me and also lots of bees flying around.”

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Chandelier Tree

Photo: Jled12/Wikimedia Commons

The Chandelier Tree, also known as the drive-thru tree, is a giant redwood located 175 miles north of San Francisco on US 101. The massive tree had the ignoble fate of having a tunnel carved through its base more than 60 years ago and is now the centerpiece of a 200-acre grove of redwoods. For $3, you can drive your car through the tree — unless you are driving a Winnebago — and set up a picnic at its base.

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Tree of Life

Photo: Chris Price/flickr

The Tree of Life in Bahrain is one of the world's loneliest trees. The mesquite tree sits at the highest point in the barren desert of Bahrain, hundreds of miles from the another natural tree and is thought to have tap roots reaching hundreds of feet down to aquifers. The exact age of the tree is unknown though it's generally believed to be more than 400 years old.

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Wollemi pine

Photo: J Brew/flickr

The Wollemi pine in Australia is a living dinosaur. The oldest Wollemi tree fossil has been dated to 200 million years ago. When a living Wollemi — which isn't technically a pine tree — was discovered in 1994, scientists were stunned. The exact location of the pines has been kept under wraps to protect the fewer than 100 trees known to be growing in the wild. In a bid to keep the trees from slipping into extinction, a propagation program was started in 2006 that allowed the general public to purchase a Wollemi sapling and they can be seen in various botanical gardens. Australia's New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage calls it an "insurance policy" to save the species.

The program appears to be successful. In 2018, "some 83 percent of the insurance Wollemi pines are surviving and have increased in size by up to 37 percent — making them mature enough to produce potentially viable seeds much earlier than expected," NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton told NDTV.

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Pirangi cashew tree

Photo: LeRoc/flickr

This famous tree near Natal, Brazil, is a 177-year-old cashew tree covering nearly 2 acres of ground. It was planted in 1888 by a fisherman who was unaware that the tree had a genetic mutation that would allow it to eventually take over so much space. When the branches of the Pirangi tree touch the ground, it puts down roots and keeps growing, unlike a typical cashew tree. Today the tree is a tourist attraction and park located a few hundred yards from the beach.

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The Tree of Ténéré

Photo: Wikipedia

The Tree of Ténéré gets a special mention only because it no longer exists. The 10-foot acacia tree was estimated to be more than 300 years old and at the time of its demise in 1973 was the only tree for more than 250 miles. It was all that remained of a large forest that had been slowly swallowed up by the encroaching desert. It 1973, it was allegedly knocked down when a drunk truck driver hit it, the only thing standing in the middle of a wide open plain. Today a monument made of metal stands where it once grew.