"Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree" --Micah 4:4
By the end of this article you might reconsider sitting only under a "fig tree". There are some extremely fantastic trees in this world: exotic, fragrant, fruitful, and simply beautiful. It is summertime in most countries now, so let's pause in a shadow of some of these exceptional living beings (even if you do not believe in "Ents", you will agree that some trees will have incredible stories to tell...).
The red resin that the tree produces is used (predictably) in lipsticks, ritual magic and alchemy. In voodoo rituals it seems to attract either love, or money (it's never both, you know) or can simply be used as a breath freshener, or toothepaste.
The aptly named Cannonball tree (common to northen parts of South America and Caribbean) often requires a warning sign under it:
This tree belongs to a baobab family, originates from India and brings a lot of color to many streets in Middle East and Asia (especially in Israel and India). It has large red flowers (Bombax ceiba means 'Orange Glow') - so intensely colored that they seem almost made out of plastic:
One kind of the Bombax tree even has a sinister story associated with it:
"According to the folklore of Trinidad and Tobago, the Castle of the Devil is a huge silk cotton tree growing deep in the forest in which Bazil the demon of death was imprisoned by a carpenter. The carpenter tricked the devil into entering the tree in which he carved seven rooms, one above the other, into the trunk. Folklore claims that Bazil still resides in that tree."
(Angkor Wat, Cambodia - image via, and at Ta Prom Temple, via)
Here is a giant Bombax tree, obviously mighty and wise, at the Ta Prom temple in Cambodia (left) - and another huge bombax root in India (right):
Speaking of baobabs... The Monkey Bread Tree can come in many weird shapes, like the bottle shape on the right (Teapot Baobab)... or it can reach to the sky with the bare root-like branches, creating the illusion of being planted "upside down" (left):
Baobabs store water in their swollen trunks - as much as 31,700 gallon (120,000 l) of water. Some empty trunks were so big that they were routinely used as prisons in Western Australia. One such prison tree can fit up to 5 people inside:
So what about "monkey bread" name? The fruits of baobab are also called the "Judas Fruit" (the fruit has 30 seeds inside, like 30 "pieces of silver"). The beautiful creamy white flowers (right) are pollinated by bats:
This spot is one of the most magical on Earth, and easily could be called One of the Seventh Wonders of Africa. It reminds me of some of fantasy landscape art, for example "The Renegades of Pern" by Michael Whelan - see it here.
The Most Sheltering Tree & The Walking Tree
We started by speaking about sitting under a fig tree. Well, there is a huge fig tree, with a wonderfully spread out shadow. It's the Banyan Tree (Ficus benghalensis), the National Tree of India, also called the Bengal Fig. Here it is in Hawaii:
In India people worship under this tree, wandering between the strands of mighty aerial roots - the tree can grow as large as the whole city block, for example the Great Banyan Tree, which is a forest in itself:
"The circumference of the whole complex of trees grown from the one central ancestor - still very much alive and all connected to it by the roots visible well over human height - is measured in kilometers."
Speaking of the aerial roots, or "legs" with which a tree can reach into the ground and thus "extend" itself - there is a Walking Tree (more info) equipped with the unusual "stilt roots", which supposedly make it more stable... or let the tree wander at night? (just kidding)
Rightly called "The Flame of the Forest", Spathodea tree has the potential to become an invasive species, but is often planted in urban areas. So consider this, soon you'll have the whole city taken over by these large orange blooms; sort of the "Day of the Triffids"-inspired nightmare:
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