We all have one; I have several. Lists of places we want to visit and things we’d like to see or accomplish in our lifetime. Along with my regular bucket list, I also have several botanical bucket lists that include plant species I’d love to see in person and cultivars I wish to grow someday. One of my botanical bucket lists is dedicated solely to trees. Yes, I am a tree lover; I’ve even been known to hug a few. So naturally, I have a list of tree species I wish to visit in my lifetime.
Strangler Fig (Ficus aurea): As their name indicates, these trees are known for their strangling growth habit. The seeds are dispersed by birds and often grow in crevices at the top of trees in tropical forests. They then send their roots downward, enveloping the host tree while also growing upward towards the light. These trees have taken over several Cambodian temples, growing massive roots over, under, and through the sandstone walls. Seeing trees that are literally holding buildings in their grasp would be a fantastic sight to see.
Major Oak: A sizeable English oak (Quercus robur) located in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, England was, according to folklore, the tree that sheltered Robin Hood and his Merry Men. This 800-1000-year-old oak is estimated to weigh 23 tons, has a circumference of 33 feet, and a canopy of 92 feet. Who wouldn’t want to visit a tree straight out of folklore?
Arbol del Tule: A Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) located in the town center of Santa Maria del Tule in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. This tree boasts the stoutest trunk globally, its girth measuring just over 137 feet and reaches 116 feet tall. Originally thought to be multiple trees, DNA tests have proven that it is only one tree.
General Sherman: This giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) is located in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park in California. This tree is estimated to be around 2,300-2,700 years old and is the largest (by volume) known living, single-stem tree. I have always dreamed of seeing these towering giants.
Baobab (Adansonia digitata): Madagascar’s baobab trees can endure harsh drought conditions by storing large amounts of water in their trunks (up to 32,000 US gallons). Many of the oldest baobabs, being over 1,600 years old, live in Tsimanampetsotse National Park.
Rainbow Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus deglupta): Native to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea, this tree is the only Eucalyptus species that typically live in the rainforest. It is mainly used for pulpwood to make white paper but is also grown as an ornamental in the frost-free states of Hawaii, Southern California, Texas, and Florida. I would love to see the beautiful bark of this tree in person someday.
Angel Oak: This famous Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) is located in Angel Oak Park on Johns Island near Charleston, South Carolina. It stands at 66.5 ft, measures 28 ft in circumference, and produces shade covering 17,200 square feet. Its longest branch distance is 187 ft in length. This majestic beauty holds a top spot on my botanical bucket list.
Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva): This tree species is known for being long-lived and highly resilient to harsh weather. The oldest known specimen is Methuselah, whose age has been verified to be more than 4,800 years old. Methuselah’s specific location is a closely guarded secret, but I would love to visit any of the bristlecone pines in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest of California.
Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum): The Portland Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon, is home to a famous Japanese maple tree in its Strolling Pond Garden. This beautiful tree has its own Flickr group and has been featured on National Geographic.
Chinese Ginkgo Tree (Ginkgo biloba): At the Gu Guanyin Buddhist Temple in China’s Zhongnan Mountains, a 1,400year-old ginkgo tree grows. The tree is believed to have been planted by the Emperor Li Shimin, the founding father of the Tang Dynasty. Ginkgo trees are often referred to as “living fossils” because they have remained the same for more than 200 million years despite drastic climate changes. When this specimen drops its leaves, it looks like an expansive golden carpet.
Japanese Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda): If you visit the Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi, Japan, between mid-April and mid-May, you will be treated to a spectacular show. The thousands of purple blooms from their famous Japanese wisteria vines will surround you as you walk beneath. I can only imagine how it would feel to be surrounded by beautiful wisteria blooms.
Snow Gum/Twisted Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus pauciflora): Native to eastern Australia, Snow gums are among the hardiest of the eucalyptus species, surviving the severe winter temperatures of the Australian Alps down to -9֯ F. Their bark is stunningly beautiful.
Divi Divi Tree (Libidibia coriaria): This tree is common in Aruba and is the national tree of CuraÇao. Their growth is often contorted by the trade winds that batter the coastal areas where it grows. I am intrigued by these fascinating trees that rise straight out of the sandy beaches.
Quaking Aspens (Populus tremuloides)/Pando Tree: This clonal colony of an individual male quaking aspen in the Fishlake National Forest in Utah is the world’s heaviest living organism. Pando occupies 108 acres, and its root system is estimated to be several thousand years old, placing it among the oldest known living organisms.
Butterfly Trees: Okay, so these aren’t actually a tree species. The Oyamel Forest in Mexico serves as an overwintering site for monarch butterflies. Millions of butterflies migrate here each year and rest in the pine, cedar, and fir trees, clumping together in the branches to stay warm. Sadly, monarch populations have been drastically declining, and this is one bucket list item that may not be around for me to see much longer.
I probably won’t get to visit all of these fantastic tree specimens, but that’s okay; one can dream. Even if I only get to see a few in my lifetime, I would be happy. The others I will have to be satisfied reading about and looking at their photographs. Do you have a botanical bucket list? If so, let me know what’s on it, whether it’s cultivars you’d like to grow, botanical gardens you’d love to visit, or plant species you wish to see in person. We can dream our botanical dreams together.
*All above photos are stock images from BIGSTOCK. Hopefully, I will someday be able to take pictures of these magnificent trees.