What would we do without trees? They provide humans and other animals with food, shade and shelter. They take in carbon dioxide we breathe out and release the oxygen we breathe in. They prevent flooding, filter water and stabilize land. Some are thousands of years old and others tower over 300 feet above the Earth!
These facts are just a few of the things that make all trees majestic and special in and of themselves. But, there are some trees that are not just incredible specimens, they also have an amazing story to tell. Below are 6 such trees.
A Resurrected Tree
The Judean Date Tree is an ancient species of date palm. It is so ancient, in fact, that it is mentioned in the Quran and the Bible. It was said to contain strong medicinal properties that bordered on miraculous and could cure tuberculosis and cancer. It was also the staple food source for the Kingdom of Judea. Unfortunately, this amazing tree went extinct, probably due to the high demand placed on it.
In the 1960’s, some Judean Date seeds were found during an archaeological excavation of Masada, an ancient fortress on the Dead Sea. Scientists decided to attempt to germinate the seeds and turned them over to a plant specialist at the Arava Institute of the Environment in Kibbutz Ketura, Israel.
The seeds were planted after being pre-treated with hormone solutions and fertilizer. Miraculously, one of the seeds germinated and was named Methuselah, a person from the Bible who was the oldest person alive at that time. In 2011, the tree bore its first bloom and continues to thrive. Experts believe the tree will bear fruit by 2022.
A giant, 1500 year old Boab tree grows in Derby, Australia. The tree itself is an amazing sight, but the history of it is fascinating. It was said to have been used as a jail to hold Australian Aborigines until they could be sentenced by the local court and placed in a more permanent jail cell. An expedition of anthropologists photographed the tree in 1916 and documented that the Aborigines used the hollow trunk of the tree for burial rituals.
Another Boab tree in Wyndham, Australia was also used as a jail. An article from 1931 stated that as many as 30 prisoners at a time were held in the hollow trunk of this giant Boab tree, but there has been no documentation found that would prove this to be true.
The Tree of Life
The tree Shajarat-al-Hayat, or “the tree of life” is aptly named. It stands alone in the middle of the desert in Bahrain and has done so for more than 400 years. There is no water source or other plants for miles. Temperatures in the region can reach 114 degrees (F) in the summer and average yearly rainfall is less than 3 inches!
Locals believe the tree is guarded by the God of water, Enki. There is also a legend that says the trees sits on the sight of the Garden of Eden. However, scientists say that the tree is able to stay alive in this arid landscape due to having an extremely long tap root that reaches deep down into ground water. Whatever the reason, the fact that this tree has lived so long in this location is truly miraculous!
The Tree that Owns Itself
There is an Oak tree in Athens, GA that is the proud owner of the property it grows on. How can a tree own property? Well, the story goes like this:
In the early 1800’s, a professor at the University of Georgia, Colonel William H. Jackson, gave ownership of the tree and the land within 8 feet on all sides of it, to the tree itself! A marker beside the tree quotes the Professor as saying, “For and in consideration of the great love I bear this tree and the great desire I have for its protection, for all time, I convey entire possession of itself and all land within eight feet of the tree on all sides”.
Sadly, the original owner (tree) that Colonel Jackson so loved, was blown down during a storm in the 1940’s. But, the progeny of this great Oak, a sapling grown from one of its acorns, was planted where its parent once stood and is now the proud owner of the spot. Even though the tree stands alone, it isn’t lonely. It gets quite a few visitors every year.
The Haunted Boyington Oak
Another oak tree in Southeastern United States also has a fascinating story to tell. The tree is named after Charles Boyington, a printer who moved to Mobile, Alabama in 1833, who quickly gained notoriety as a gambler who was always looking for a way to earn some fast cash.
One night in May, 1834, Charles and his friend, Nathaniel Frost, were seen walking through the Church Street Graveyard on the edge of Mobile. The next day, Nathaniel was found dead in the cemetary. Of course, Charles quickly became the suspect, was arrested, found guilty with little actual evidence, and sentenced to hang. He continued to proclaim his innocence up to the moment of his execution. Just before his hanging, he claimed that, to prove his innocence, an oak tree would grow from his heart after his death.
Sure enough, years later, an oak tree grew out of his grave and still stands to this very day. Local folklore says that the tree is haunted by Charles’ restless spirit. It’s said you can hear Charles announcing his innocence as his voice whispers in the wind through the branches of the trees. Needless to say, the tree is popular with ghost hunters