Okay, so maybe I exaggerate a little. But not much. This is a Banyan Tree on The Big Island of Hawaii. I took this picture from within a grove of banyans somewhere on the road between Waikiki and Hilo. The photo looks a little murky because I was standing in the middle of a huge circle of trees whose branches were all entangled overhead. The filtered light was dim and greenish, and the shade was quite cool, even on this very bright and sunny day. Although it looks like it has lots of slim stems, branches, and trunks, this is actually one single tree. Its branches send out shoots that point down towards the earth and eventually become slender trunks that in turn sprout branches that send out shoots that point down towards the earth and eventually become slender trunks that in turn sprout branches... and so on. A banyan is a kind of fig. A single specimen can live hundreds of years. In fact, banyans can grow much larger than the one in the picture above. There is one in Hawaii that covers 2/3 of an acre. (Read more about them here.)
For all the scofflaws who would want to argue that the banyan doesn't really count as the biggest tree in the world because it's just a whole bunch of littler trees all clumped together, I give you this. The majestic Sequoia or California Redwood. It can live up to 2200 years, and get nearly 380 feet tall and 23 feet in diameter at the base. This picture was taken in 1998 in a grove at the Sequoia National Forest in California. There are certainly redwoods bigger than these particular trees, since there are some with tunnels in them for roads to go through (I'm not making this up). But these here are pretty darn big.
For a sense of scale, I'm including the next picture, which is of the surface roots of a toppled one of these incredible trees. Though it may not be literally the biggest tree in the world, it certainly qualifies as an awful lot of wood. (And yes, for those who are wondering, that is Mr. MommyTime posing for us all.)
Saturday, February 23, 2008
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