For Americans at home and abroad, there are few things that usher in the holidays like the enormous Christmas tree in front of Rockefeller Center. More than 125 million people visit the tree each year, and the lighting ceremony is televised shortly after Thanksgiving.
In New Zealand, residents have taken advantage of the early summer weather by adopting a particularly festive local tree (Pohutukawa) as the symbol for Christmas on the island.
Trees are known for their longevity, and there are countless examples of trees living to 1000 years and beyond. At this age they can grow to cover acres of land, but in Southern Utah, USA, the Pando aspen tree colony breaks all records.
The araucaria araucana is certainly a peculiar tree. Chile’s national tree is originally from high in the mountains of Patagonia, but thanks to a strange twist of fate, it’s now common in Victorian gardens throughout the UK.
Due to its remote location, New Zealand was one of the last places where humans set foot, allowing it to develop a rich and distinct biodiversity. In the Northland region of the main island, an ancient kauri forest is home to the oldest examples of the native species.
As fall begins in Malaga, Spain, the smell of roasted sweet chestnuts fills the pedestrian streets of the city center. In the mountains above the small town of Istan, the ‘Holy Chestnut’ has grown for a thousand years.
Alongside the neon lights and constant hum of Tokyo’s commuter trains, ancient temples and shrines provide a serene reminder of the past. Near the Zenpuku-ji Buddhist temple in the Azabu Ward, one ginkgo tree links to a time before time.
Apple trees have long been a part of human history, as one of the first cultivated trees, but one tree inspired one of the biggest scientific discoveries in centuries. The so called ‘gravity tree’ is located on the grounds of Woolsthorpe Manor, the birthplace of Sir Isaac Newton.
High in the mountains of Sierra de las Nieves natural park in the South of Spain, one Spanish fir tree (abies pinsapo) towers above its kin.
At the east end of Madrid’s iconic Puerta del Sol there is a tribute to another famous symbol of the city – the Statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree.