Standing Among the World’s Oldest Trees Photos

Diksom Forest, Heart of the Dragon, Socotra, Yemen, 2010.

When the trunk is cut, which is allowed twice a year, a deep red sap, highly prized from ancient times, oozes from the tree. Photographer <a href=”; target=”_blank”>Beth Moon</a> has been taking portraits of the oldest trees in an effort to preserve their legacy. Many of the trees are only found in areas removed from civilization, preserving their sense of timelessness. Her work is also available in the book “<a href=”; target=”_blank”>”Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time”</a>.

Beth Moon

Sentinels of St. Edwards, Stow-on-the-Wold, England, 2005.

Not much is known about the trees. It is presumed that they were planted sometime in the 18th century, and are probably survivors of a celebrated, formal avenue that led to the door of the church. One theory says the church door was the inspiration for the Door of Moria in Lord of the Rings, as the author, J. R. R. Tolkien was known to have passed through the area.

Beth Moon

The Ifaty Teapot, Toliara, Madagascar 2006.

Sparse branches that grow only at the trees top and look more like roots than a canopy give the baobab its nickname the “upside-down tree.” The girth of the cylindrical trunk is approximately 45 feet in diameter. The tree is thought to be 1,200 years old, and has the ability to store more than 31,000 gallons of water.

Beth Moon

Majesty, Nonington, England, 2005.

Now on a private estate, this aristocratic tree boasts a girth of more than 40 feet with a hollow trunk, and towers 62 feet above the grassy mound upon which she stands. At one point a major branch broke off on the north side, leaving a large hole.

Beth Moon

Avenue of the Baobabs, Morondava, Madagascar, 2006.

Elegant in shape and form, these strange and magnificent baobabs seem to rise effortlessly to heights of 98 feet. Found only on the island of Madagascar, they look best at sunset when their dramatic trunks, ten feet in diameter, glow.

Beth Moon

General Sherman, Sierra Nevada, California, 2006.

Dominating the Sequoia National Park in California, this giant sequoia is named after General William T. Sherman, a Union commander in the American Civil War. The fire-resistant trunk measures 85 feet at the base, and weighs 1,500 tons. Each year the tree adds enough new wood to make a 60 foot tree. A monument within the forest, this is considered to be the largest living tree in the world, and is around 2,500 years old.

Beth Moon

Bristlecone Pine in Schulman Grove, Big Pine, California, 2005.

High in the White Mountains of the Inyo National Forest live many wind-swept, gnarled bristlecone pines that are over 4,000 years old. Their growth stunted by lack of water, these trees live in extreme conditions and have an astonishing capacity for endurance.

Beth Moon

Strangler Fig, Rilke’s Bayon. Siem Reap, Cambodia 2007.

The temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia represent one of man’s most astonishing and enduring architectural achievements. Today, the temples exist in a neglected, semi-ruined state. The religious monuments have been left as they were found, preserved as an example of what an untamed tropical forest will do to an architectural monument when human hands are withdrawn.

Beth Moon

The Bowthorpe Oak, Manthorpe, England, 2002.

With a circumference of 40 feet, this mighty oak competes with Majesty for the title of largest girthed living British oak. It is perhaps the oldest oak tree, estimated to be around 1,200 years old, give or take a century. More of Moon’s work can be seen in her book “<a href=”; target=”_blank”>”Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time”</a>.

Beth Moon


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