Thursday, August 11, 2016

Strange and Unusual Trees

The Rainbow Eucalyptus is native to the Philippines and sheds the outer layer of its bark often to expose new, green bark underneath. As the bark ages it goes through several color changes from green, to blue, to purple, to orange, and finally to brown before being shed. Because the bark is shed in irregular patches the tree displays a collection of all these colors at once giving a kaleidoscopic effect. They can be grown in many places which will not experience frosts but in the Philippines they are mostly cultivated for use in paper manufacture and not as decorative trees.
Root bridges are a specialized form of arboriculture practiced in the forests of northern India. The rubber trees of the Cherrapunji have been exploited for centuries by the Khasis people to grow their own bridges over streams and rivers. To grow your own bridge you need to hollow out a log, lay the log over the gap you wish to cross, and direct the roots of the tree to grow into the log.

The roots will grow until they find solid earth to attach to, anchoring the bridge. Once the roots have formed a bridge, soil and stones, or other wood, are laid over them to protect them from damage as people cross.
Le ChĂȘne Chapelle (The Oak Chapel) in Allouville-Bellefosse is an oak which has been carved out to house two chapels within its enormous trunk. The oak itself is approximately 800 years old, and the chapels were added in the 1600s. A lightning strike burned the core of the tree but the tree survived and remained standing, allowing the local priests to build their chapel within it. Today the tree is beginning to show signs of its age and the pressures of housing a religious site, and so requires supporting struts. Despite this, the chapel remains in use and a mass is celebrated twice a year at the site. To reach the upper of the two chapels there is a staircase which winds around the trunk.
the Dragon Blood tree is found in the Socotra Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Somalia. Its trunk is bare and branches only at the top, ending in sharp spiky leaves. This unusual appearance is due to the Dragon Blood tree belonging to the monocotyledons, the same group of plants as grasses, rather than dicotyledons, which are more common amongst trees.

As well as an unusual exterior, the trees also reveal an unusual interior; once pierced bright red sap oozes out. The crimson sap, called Dragon Blood, is dried and then used as a medicine or a dye. While the inhabitants of Socotra still use it as a panacea, the sap is mostly used in the West as a red varnish for violins.