Unless you are a cyborg, your life is still tightly connected to these green giants. Trees are amazing specimens of life on this planet, and have been an integral part of the advancement of human societies since the beginning of civilisations. From providing foods and source of fuel to being objects of worships in religions throughout the world, trees are the gifts from Earth that just keep giving. It is our duty to protect this partner of abundance.
1. White Oak
The long living tree species, white oak (Quercus alba), is known to live as long as 450 years old. It is a broad-topped tree native to North America, and can grow to incredible height. Like its trunk and branches, the white oak has deep strong roots reaching as deep as 4.5 metres (15 feet). Oak trees have roots that lies just 45.7 centimetres (18 inches) under the soil.
Furthermore, white oak trees growing side by side can share their root system. Among the uses for wood of white oaks include musical instruments such as the 5-string banjos from the Deering Banjo Company, for making wine and whiskey barrels, shipbuilding, interiors of houses, furniture, and even the warship USS Constitution.
Found natively in North and South America as well as the Asian Continent, the hickory (genus Carya) is a tree that develops taproots growing straight down into the ground with spreading lateral roots. Fo example, bitternut hickory has a dense root system reaching 30 to 91 centimetres (12 to 36 inches) deep even at an early age. Hickory wood, known for its hardness, stiffness, shock resistance, has been used for tool handles, bows, wheel spokes, hickory stick, bottom of skis, paddles, and for smoking cured meats and barbecue.
3. Walnut Trees
The deciduous trees where our favourite walnuts (genus Juglans) come from are found in temperate climate in North America, Japan, and the southern tip of Latin America in Argentina. Growing to 10 – 40 metres (33 – 131 feet) tall, walnut trees’ root system grows deep downward for 60-76 centimetres (24-30 inches) while spreading laterally throughout the trees’ lifetime.
Interestingly, roots of walnut trees secrete the toxic chemical juglone which could affect nearby plants. You may be interested to know that walnut root ball can fetch good prices. Interesting fact: folklore has it that a walnut tree should be eaten to simulate wood formation. Furthermore, walnut wood has been used to make guns such as the Gewehr 98 and Lee–Enfield rifles.
Related to another great tree species the birch, hornbeams (genus Carpinus) are flowering hardwood trees distributed mainly in temperate east Asian countries such as China. Hornbeam roots, while deep, go into the soil and will not crawl on the surface. This makes hornbeams popular as street trees where its roots will not heave and split pavements.
Known for its hardness, hornbeam wood is prized for making carving boards, tool handles, coach wheels, piano action assemblies. Other names for the tree include blue-beech, ironwood, or musclewood.
5. Northern Red Oaks
The deciduous northern red oaks (Quercus rubra) are trees that grow straight and tall, reaching height of 28-43 metres (92-141 feet). The tree is native to North America and grown in many parks and gardens as ornamental trees. Northern red oaks have relatively fibrous roots which makes them easier to transplant compared with other oak species. Red oaks have deep root system which has a symbiotic relationship with fungi. Interesting fact: the red oak is the state tree of New Jersey and the provincial tree of Prince Edward Island.
6. American Sycamore
Distinguished by its mottled bark and the greenish-white, grey and brown surface the flaking barks left behind, American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) is a tree native to the riparian and wetland areas of eastern North America including Iowa, Ontario, Maine, and Florida. American sycamore can grow to 30-40 metres (98-131 feet in height).
To give you an idea of how massive a sycamore trunk can be, in 1744 in the Shenandoah Valley, a settler named Joseph Hampton lived with his sons in a hollow sycamore in Clarke County, Virginia. Uses for its timber include butcher’s blocks, furniture, veneer and interior trim, boxes, flooring, and fibreboard.
7. Bigtooth Maple
The bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum) is a shrubby tree native to western North America distributed from Montana in America to Coahuila in Mexico. It grows to about 10-15 metres (33-49 feet) in height and flowers during mid spring, producing brown fruits maturing in early fall.
The bigtooth maple is planted as an ornamental tree for its nice autumn foliage and had been planted in area with coastal climate such as Vancouver, despite the tree’s continental origin. The sap of the tree is rich in sugar and can be made into syrup. Bigtooth maple leaves can be used for packing fruits, its woods for furniture and fuel.
Cottonwood (Populus sect. Aigeiros) consists of three Populus species, Eastern cottonwood (P. deltoides), Fremont’s cottonwood (P. fremontii), and black popla (P. nigra) native to North America, Europe and western Asia. Growing to 15-25 metres (50-80 feet) in height, these cottonwoods have thick bark and diamond-shaped leaves with seeds in cottony structures that disperse with the wind.
Cottonwoods are cultivated for timber production for uses such as pallet boxes, shipping crates, screens, and shelterbelts. Its soft bark is used for carving and as food for caterpillars.
9. Evergreen Figs
Evergreen figs (Ficus spp), or collectively known as fig trees, are trees, shrubs, and vines native throughout the tropics and scattering in the temperate zone. They include the popularly-known common fig (F. carica) cultivated in Asia and the Mediterranean for its fruits, as well as other lesser known species with cultural importance and practical uses. Fig fruits are important food source for fruit bats, capuchin monkeys, langurs, mangabeys, and birds.
Figs feature prominently in human culture from ancient times, including the sacred bodhi fig tree in Buddhism and the banyan fig. The common fig tree is even cited in the Bible. Fig wood, while not suitable for many uses because of its latex, is now favoured by chefs for its aroma.
10. Weeping Willow
A popular ornamental tree in China, the weeping willow (Salix babylonica), also known as Babylon willow, is a medium-large deciduous tree native to northern China but widely cultivated in Asia. The tree grows rapidly to 20-25 metres (66-82 feet) in height with light-green leaves that turn gold-yellow in autumn and produces flowers arranged in catkins. It is also cultivated for wood production as well as shelterbelts in the Gobi Desert.
11. Golden Bamboo
Desirable among collectors, the golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea), is a type of ‘running bamboo’ native to the Fujian and Zhejiang provinces of China. The golden bamboo is popular as ornamental plants in gardens and privacy hedges. It has even been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit although it is regarded as an invasive species in the United States. Known variously as fishpole bamboo, golden bamboo, monk’s belly bamboo and fairyland bamboo, it is and suitable for making bamboo pipes.
12. California Redwood
The forest giants California redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), also known as coast redwoods are evergreen, long-living, monoecious trees. These trees are known as some of the tallest and oldest living trees in the world, reaching a height of 115.5 metre (379 feet) and living 1,200–1,800 years. They cover the areas around coastal California and Oregon in the United States. Its bark has a red-brown colour when exposed hence the name.
Coast redwood is valued for its timber, which is used for railroad ties and trestles. Redwood burls are used for crafting table tops and veneers. This is another tree that has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit for its ornamental properties. Coast redwood has been successfully cultivated in New Zealand, Great Britain, Italy, Portugal, Hawaii, South Africa, and central Mexico.
13. Shepherd’s Tree
The evergreen Shepherd’s tree (Boscia albitrunca) is a protected species native to South Africa. It a forage tree important in the Kalahari, bushveld, and lowveld regions in Africa. It can grow to 10 metres (33 feet), produces small, green-yellow, star-shaped flowers and fruits, while its foliage is often browsed by antelopes.
Furthermore, the Shepherd’s tree’s most impressive feature is its root system, which can reach as far down as 68 metres (223 feet) for a specimen discovered in central Kalahari.
The camels of trees, the baobab (Adansonia), are deciduous trees native to the dry areas of Madagascar, mainland bushlands of Africa, Arabia, and Australia. Baobabs can grow to 5-30 metres (16-98 feet) tall and are known for their abilities to survive in arid conditions by storing up to 120,000 litres (32,000 gallons) of water inside their trunks.
Baobab trees have coconut-sized fruits that can be eaten and its dried powder can be used in jams and gravies, and even as sweeter. Indigenous uses for baobab include as fibre, dye, and fuel.
15. Coconut Palm
The ever present hosts at sunny beaches round the world, the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) is a large palm tree growing to a height of 30 metres (98 feet) with leave fronds 4-6 metres (13-19 feet) long. Coconut palms are native to the sandy soils of the coastlines of the tropics such as India, Southeast Asia, Americas, Africa, and Bangladesh.
The coconut palms are widely regarded for its many practical uses. Its fruit, the coconut, is deliciously edible. Coconut milk is commonly used in cooking while coconut oil is increasingly considered healthy. Coconuts can be made into palm wine, palm sugar, palm cabbage, candy, caramel, jelly, and even detergent.
16. Olive Trees
Famed for the oil pressed from its fruits, the olive trees (Olea europaea) is a type of small tree natively found in the Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, South Asia, China, and the Canary Islands. It is an evergreen shrub growing to 8-15 metres (26-49 feet) tall with small white flowers and 1-2.5 centimetres (0.39-0.98 inch) long green fruits.
The olive fruit is highly valued for its commercial values, especially its oil which is one of the basic ingredients in Mediterranean cookings. Having been first cultivated since 7,000 years ago, the olive trees are also valued for its fine wood and olive leaves.
Commonly known as gum trees, eucalyptus (Eucalyptus) are flowering trees and shrubs commonly found in Australia and native to New Guinea and certain parts of Indonesia and the Philippines. Eucalyptus trees can reach a height of over 60 metres (200 feet) and hold the title of the tallest known flowering plant (E. regnans) on Earth. Its fluffy flowers come in white, cream, yellow, or red, while its fruits are yellow-brown.
Eucalyptus trees are cultivated as a source of pulpwood. Eucalyptus oil, steam distilled from eucalyptus leaves, are being used as solvent, an antiseptic, and in food supplements such as sweets and cough drops.
The Cypress (Cupressus) is a group of evergreen conifer tree or large shrub species native to warm temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere including North America, Central America, northwest Africa, and the Himalayas. Cypress can reach height of 5-39 metres (16-128 feet) and produces cones 8-40 millimetres (0.3-1.5 inch) long.
In addition, cypresses are cultivated as ornamental trees in parks and as source for timber. It is also interesting to note that in ancient time the cypress tree was sacred to the Greek goddess, Artemis.
Native to cold regions in the Northern Hemisphere, the aspen (Populus) is the common name for certain tree species including the Chinese aspen, Korean aspen, Japanese aspen, Eurasian aspen and the bigtooth and quaking aspens found in North America. These medium-sized deciduous trees reach height of 15-30 metres (49-98 feet).
Interestingly, the bark of aspen trees is photosynthetic so the tree grows even in winter. Aspen also has rhizomatic root systems allowing trees to grow in large colonies and these root systems can live for thousands of years, far outlasting the individual trees (40-150 years). Aspen’s soft and strong woods are used to make matches and paper.
20. Pine Trees
The evergreen, coniferous pine (Pinus) trees grow to 3-80 metres (10-260 feet) tall with mostly thick scaly bark, needle-like foliage, and cones of 1-5 centimetres (0.39-1.9 inches) long. Pines typically reaches ages of 100-1,000 years and the Great Basin bristlecone pine is the longest-lived.
Pines are valued commercially for their timber and wood pulp. Pine wood is used to make furniture, window frames, panelling, floors, and roofing, while its resin can be made into turpentine. Furthermore, pine nuts are harvested and used as cooking and baking ingredient. You may even have heard of tea made from young, green pine needles!
Fir (Abies) trees are evergreen conifers in the family of Pinaceae native to the mountains of North and Central America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa. These large trees measure up to 10-80 metres (33-262 feet) in height. Firs’ unique needle-like leaves attach to the twig by a base resembling a suction cup. Firs also have distinctive erect, cylindrical cones that release winged seeds at maturity.
Fir trees are mostly used as pulp or for the manufacture of plywood, in addition to being used for the construction of drywall. You probably have one of these varieties such as Nordmann fir, noble fir, and Fraser fir in your living room as Christmas tree.
Natively in northern temperate climates such as North America, Europe, Japan, and northern China, the birch (Betula) are deciduous hardwood trees are found. Birch are mostly small to medium-sized in height with thin leaves and small samara fruits.
Birch can be made into plywood used for making longboards (skateboards) and model aircraft. Birch extracts are used for flavouring and in cosmetics (soap and shampoo). Scented woods from silver birch are used in saunas. In Northern Europe and Siberia, birch sap is a traditional drink and used like maple syrup.
Similar to pine trees, cedar (Cedrus genus) are coniferous. Cedars are indigenous to the mountain ranges of the Himalayas and Mediterranean at altitude over 1,000 metres (3,200 feet). Cedars can reach height of 30-40 metres (98-131 feet) with broad, level branches. The evergreen leaves are needle-like and its seed cones are barrel-shaped 6-12 centimetres (2.3-4.7 inches) long.
Cedars are used in horticulture as ornamental trees and even trained as bonsai. Cedar wood and cedar oil are used as natural moth repellent.
The family of flowering trees and shrubs called alder (Alnus) is found in the north temperate region and the Andes in South America. Alders are deciduous trees with simple serrated leaves and catkins flowers. The common green alder reaches 5 metres (16 feet) in height while the red alder of North America and black alder of Europe can reach over 30 metres (98 feet) tall.
Alder hardwoods are used to make furniture, cabinets and even electric guitars. Native American cultures have used red alder bark to treat insect bites and skin irritations.
The hazelnut tree or the hazels (Corylus) are deciduous trees and large shrubs found in the Northern Hemisphere. Hazel shrubs can reach 12 metres (39 feet) tall while hazel trees can reach a height of 20-35 metres (65-114 feet). Hazel leaves are simple and rounded with pale, yellow catkins flowers. Its fruits are the hazelnuts, which are of course edible, and the main reason for its cultivation. And if you like hazelnuts, you maybe happy to know that the Celts believed hazelnuts gave wisdom and inspiration.
Found mainly in the temperate regions of Europe, Asia and North America, the beech (Fagus) are deciduous trees with entire or sparsely toothed leaves and small unisexual flowers. Beech produces small three-angled nuts that are edible. Beech are known for being excellent firewood. Furthermore, beech woods are used to ferment beers, smoke Westphalian ham, sausages, and even some types of cheese. In addition, beech is widely cultivated for ornamental use.
27. Chestnut tree
Varying from shrubby to 60 metres (196 feet) in height, the chestnut (Castanea) are deciduous trees and shrubs native to the northern temperate climate zone. There are four common species namely the European, Chinese, Japanese, and American chestnuts. Chestnut trees have simple, ovate leaves and catkins flowers.
The chestnut fruits are contained in spiny cupules and are known to be the only type of nuts with vitamin C. Chestnuts can be eaten raw, roasted, or milled into flour to prepare breads, cakes, pies, soups, and sauces. Chestnut timber is valued for its durability in house construction and furniture making. Chestnut wood produces natural tannin for tanning leather.
28. Almond tree
Famous for its nuts, the almond tree (Prunus dulcis) is a deciduous species indigenous to the Mediterranean, India, and North Africa regions with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Almond trees can reach a height of 4-10 metres (13-33 feet) with serrated leaves. The tree produces small white to pale pink flowers with its fruits maturing in the autumn.
The almond fruit is a drupe similar to the plum and cherry, and the edible seed inside is generally called the nut. Almonds have wide culinary uses, including almond butter, almond milk, almond paste, and used in marzipan, nougat, pastries, cakes, cookies, deserts, and curries. Almonds are rich in oil containing high vitamin E. The almond tree featured prominently in the Bible.
Now, this is how you get fresh sweet delicious coconut juice right on the beach.
Photos by: 1. Msact at English Wikipedia, Matthew R. Fairchild 2. Bruce Marlin at English Wikipedia, Hickory Farms 3. Bruce Marlin at English Wikipedia, Pinterest 4. H. Zell at English Wikipedia, Houzz 5. Velela English Wikipedia, Pinterest 6. Bruce Marlin at English Wikipedia, Edward Barnsley Workshop 7. Cory Maylett, Miguel Andrade at English Wikipedia, 8. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, G. Edward Johnson at English Wikipedia, 9. Eitan f at English Wikipedia, Extra Virgin 10. Jdforrester at English Wikipedia, Bonsai Tree Gardener 11. Kurt Stüber at English Wikipedia, Amazon 12. English Wikipedia, Bryan Appleton Designs 13. JMK at English Wikipedia, Pinterest 14. Muhammad Mahdi Karim at English Wikipedia, Aduna 15. Isabel Nolasco, Edi Wibowo at English Wikipedia, 16. Petr Pakandl at English Wikipedia, Aquarius Oil Equipment 17. HelloMojo at English Wikipedia, Pure Formulas 18. Chneophytou at English Wikipedia, Demak Outdoor Timber & Hardware 19. Doug Dolde, Frank Vincentz at English Wikipedia, 20. yeowatzup at Flickr, WikiHow 21. Marcia Wright at English Wikipedia, Scottish Christmas Trees 22. Willow at English Wikipedia, Kirkmann Homestead 23. Yhabbouche at English Wikipedia 24. Jim Champion at flickr, Alibaba 25. H. Zell at English Wikipedia, Youtube 26. Jean-Pol GRANDMONT at English Wikipedia, Alamy 27. Vassil at English Wikipedia, Youtube 28. Cake Craft Company, Plàcid Pérez Bru at English Wikipedia