Cucumber Tree

Don’t bother searching for any traditional cucumbers on a cucumber tree.

  • Cucumber trees are a species of tree native exclusively to Yemen’s Socotra, an island off the coast of the Middle East.
  • The scientific name of the cucumber tree is Dendrosicyos socotronus, although it also known as Dendrosicyos socotrana, and it is from the family Cucurbitaceae, the family of gourds and curcurbits.
  • Isaac Bayley Balfour, a Scottish botanist, was the first to scientifically classify the cucumber tree, doing so in 1882.
  • Cucumber trees bloom small tubular flowers that are approximately 3 centimetres (1.2 inches) in diameter, and are a yellow to orange colour.
  • The small green leaves of a cucumber tree are edged with spines that reduce in sharpness as they age and the leaves usually reach a diameter of 4 to 8 centimetres (1.6 to 3.1 inches); while the trunk is a mostly white to light grey colour and can reach 1 metre (3.3 feet) or more in diameter.
Cucumber Tree, Vegetation, Trivia, Random Facts, Socotra, Plant, Trunk
A Cucumber Tree
Image courtesy of Stefan Geens/Flickr
  • Cucumber trees grow to be 3 to 6 metres (10 to 20 feet) in height and have a large trunk compared to the small canopy.
  • The cucumber tree is the only species in the Cucurbitaceae family that is a tree, as most others are vines; and the plant can only be propagated by seed.
  • Cucumber trees have fleshy fruit that are somewhat ovoid with pointy ends; and they are an orange-red colour, with similar coloured flesh, when ripe.
  • The trunk of a cucumber tree stores water, rendering it a relatively drought resistant plant; and the plant has been used as a traditional medicine by native locals, to treat a variety of illnesses.
  • Cucumber trees are considered a vulnerable species, threatened primarily for their overuse in supplying feed for livestock during periods of drought.
Bibliography:
Dendrosicyos, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dendrosicyos
Dendrosicyos socotranus, n.d, Bihrmann, http://www.bihrmann.com/caudiciforms/subs/den-soc-sub.asp
 Dendrosicyos socotrana, n.d, California State University, Fullerton, http://biology.fullerton.edu/facilities/greenhouse/Stories_out_of_School/dendrosicyos.html
 Dendrosicyos socotrana, n.d, Succulent Gardening, http://www.succulents.us/dendrosicyossoc.html
Miller A, Dendrosicyos socotrana, 2004, The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/33691/0
Socotra Cucumber Tree (Dendrosicyos socotrana): Isolated Isle’s Weird Fantastic Vulnerable Tree, 2014, Wizzley, https://wizzley.com/socotra-cucumber-tree-dendrosicyos-socotrana/

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Dragon Blood Tree

Dragon blood trees are a reality of another fantasy.

  • Dragon blood trees are an evergreen species of tree, endemic to the woodlands of the Socotra islands of Yemen, located in the Arabian Sea near western Asia.
  • The scientific name of the dragon blood tree is Dracaena cinnabari and it is from the family Asparagaceae, a family of plants that flower, and in the subfamily Nolinoideae.
  • ‘Dragon blood trees’ are also known as ‘Socotra dragon trees’, and they can reach a height of 5 to 10 metres (16.4 to 33 feet).
  • Dragon blood trees grow in a shape that resembles that of a mushroom, with branches that are shaped like large sausages and form in a dense structure; while sturdy long, narrow leaves form on the ends of the branches in clusters, and they can be as long as 60 centimetres (2 feet).
  • Moisture is absorbed by dragon blood trees from mist or low cloud cover, and often the moisture trickles down cracks in rocks to the roots below.
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Dragon Blood Trees
Image courtesy of Rod Waddington/Flickr
  • Dragon blood trees generally bloom in February, and they produce many small flowers that grow in groups, and are coloured a creamy white to green colour.
  • Numerous berries form on dragon blood trees after flowering, and they have a diameter of approximately 1 cm (0.4 inches); are of an orange to red colour when ripe; and contain from 1 to 3 seeds.
  • Dragon blood trees are listed as a vulnerable species as reproduction has noticeably declined, likely due to a changing climate, over-harvesting and human interference.
  • Dragon blood trees are known for excreting a blood red resin that has been used as dye or varnish, as well as a form of traditional medicine since ancient times in Rome, Greece and Egypt, and the resin is still used in modern times.
  • Many young dragon blood trees of present times have failed to grow branches in the dense canopy typical of older specimens, and this has caused conservation concerns, as the canopy allows new plants to grow in its shade, and prevents moisture loss around the base of the tree.
Bibliography:
Dragon’s Blood Tree (Dracaena Cinnibari), n.d, Wildscreen Arkive, http://www.arkive.org/dragons-blood-tree/dracaena-cinnabari/
Dracaena Cinnabari, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dracaena_cinnabari
Miller A, Dracaena Cinnabari, 2004, The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/30428/0
Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences, ScienceDirect, 2015, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1319562X15002065
Socotra Dragon Tree, 2016, Global Trees Campaign, http://globaltrees.org/threatened-trees/trees/socotra-dragon-tree/

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African Baobab

African baobabs leave multiple lasting impressions.

  • African baobabs are very large trees native to Africa’s savannah habitats, in areas where there are high temperatures.
  • ‘African baobabs’ are also known as ‘upside-down trees’, ‘baobabs’, ‘monkey-bread trees’, ‘cream of tartar trees’ and ‘dead-rat trees’.
  • The scientific name of an African baobab is Adansonia digitata, and it is from the family Malvaceae, the family of mallows.
  • African baobabs can grow up to 14 metres (46 feet) in diameter and more than 20 metres (66 feet) in height.
  • Oval-shaped, fruit with crumbly or powdery white flesh, is produced by African baobab trees, that are 12 to 20 centimetres (4 to 8 inches) in length, and the flesh is commonly eaten in Africa.
African Baobab, Leaves, Trunk, Africa, Tree, Vegetation, Scene, Flickr, Ten Random Facts
African Baobab
Image courtesy of Michael Janson/Flickr
  • African baobab fruit is considered highly nutritious, being extraordinarily high in calcium, vitamin C and antioxidants.
  • The leaves of the African baobab are used in cooking, and in 2008 and 2009, the fruit was accepted as a legal ingredient in commercial food products in Europe and the United States respectively.
  • African baobabs bloom white-coloured, short-lived flowers that grow 12 to 20 centimetres (4 to 8 inches) in diameter and have five petals and numerous stamens.
  • The roots of an African baobab spread wider than the tree’s height, although they are relatively shallow, and the roots are capable of collecting large quantities of water.
  • An African baobab grows 5 to 10 centimetre (2 to 4 inch) thick bark, that is generally coloured grey or brown, and due to its fibrous nature it is used to make fishing nets, mats, bags, rope and other items.
Bibliography:
Adansonia digitata, 2015, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adansonia_digitata
Baobab, n.d, Encyclopaedia of Life, http://eol.org/pages/584789/overview
Hankey A, Adansonia digitata, 2004, Plantz Africa, http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantab/adansondigit.htm

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Crooked Forest

Don’t go crook watching the Crooked Forest!

  • Crooked Forest is a group of pine trees that are abnormally distorted and bent near the base of the tree trunks, and as a result the trunks have grown in a significant ‘c’ shaped curve.
  • The location of Crooked Forest is in Poland’s province of West Pomerania, in Europe, near the town of Gryfino.
  • The bends in the Crooked Forest tree trunks are at roughly right angles and generally in the direction of due north.
  • Farmers are said to have planted the Crooked Forest in approximately 1930, making the trees roughly 85 years old in 2015.
  • Crooked Forest features roughly 400 trees, that are arranged in 22 rows.
Crooked Forest, Bent, Trees, Poland, Polish, Wonder, Mysterious, Ten Random Facts
Crooked Forest
Image courtesy of Lisa/Flickr
  • It is widely believed that the trees of Crooked Forest were purposely bent via the use of a tool or machine, up to 10 years after planting.
  • Theories of the cause of the bending of the trees in the Crooked Forest are many, and some have said that it is a result of heavy snow covering, weird gravity forces and army tank flattening.
  • It is likely that the trees in the Crooked Forest were grown in a peculiar way to create boat hull framing or furniture.
  • The owners of the Crooked Forest probably abandoned their grove of trees during World War II’s impending Polish invasion.
  • Tourists visiting the area commonly visit Crooked Forest, along with the region’s other interesting sites.
Bibliography:
Alford J, What Could Have Caused Poland’s Crooked Forest?, 2014, IFL Science, http://www.iflscience.com/environment/what-could-have-caused-polands-crooked-forest
Crooked Forest, 2015, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crooked_Forest
Mysterious Photos of Unexplainable ‘Crooked Forest’ In Poland, Earth Porm, http://www.earthporm.com/mysterious-photos-unexplainably-crooked-forest-poland/
Poland’s Mysterious Crooked Forest, 2011, World of Mysteries, http://www.themysteryworld.com/2011/09/polands-mysterious-crooked-forest.html

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Illawarra Flame Tree

The Illawarra flame tree will not cause a fire!

  • Illawarra flame trees are big trees that grow to a typical height of 20 metres (66 feet), but can grow up to 40 metres (130 feet).
  • Illawarra flame trees are deciduous and are native to the eastern coastal areas of Australia.
  • Illawarra flame trees are from the family Malvaceae, which is the family of mallows, to which hibiscus, hollyhocks, cotton, cacao and okra all belong.
  • The scientific name of Illawarra flame trees is Brachychiton acerifolius, and they are one of the 31 species in the Brachychiton genus, which also includes bottle trees.
  • When Illawarra flame trees lose all of their leaves, the tree becomes shrouded in 1 to 2 centimetre (0.4 to 0.8 inches) long red coloured, bell shaped flowers.

illawarre flame tree, Red, Flowers, Australia, Bright, Tall, Large, Ten Random Facts

  • Illawarra flame trees gr0w 10 cm (4 inch) long, dark brown seed pods and green, maple-shaped leaves.
  • Illawarra flame tree seed pods are potentially hazardous as they contain hairs that can be inhaled, irritate on contact with skin, and in the worse-case scenario, cause blindness.
  • The yellow seeds of Illawarra flame tree seeds have been eaten by indigenous Australians, who would carefully toast the seeds.
  •  ‘Illawarra flame trees’ are also known as ‘kurrajongs’ or ‘flame trees’ and they grow best in temperatures that are warm.
  • The inner bark of Illawarra flame trees has been used to create fishing line.

 

Bibliography:
Brachychiton Acerifolius, 2013, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brachychiton_acerifolius
Brachychiton Acerifolius, n.d, Royal Botanic Gardens, http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/education/Resources/bush_foods/Brachychiton_acerifolius

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Christmas Tree

“Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree!”

  • Traditionally, the Christmas tree symbolises the Christian belief of eternal life and was also thought to have been used in pre-Christian winter rites.
  • The original Christmas tree can be traced down to 15th-16th century, in early modern Germany and the first decorated trees were used in the years 1441, 1442, 1510, 1514, in the historic region of Livonia.
  • The Christmas tree is traditionally an evergreen tree which is normally pine or fir and were originally decorated with edible food.  The artificial Christmas tree was invented in Germany in the early 18th century and are now made in numerous shapes and sizes, using many different materials.
  • In the 18th century, candles were used to decorate Christmas trees which then led to electric lights being used.
  • In the 19th century, the Christmas tree tradition spread to many countries.  The first Christmas tree introduced in North America was in 1781 when Brunswick soldiers had a Christmas party.

 Large, Outdoors, Christmas Tree, Shopping Center, Ten Random Facts

  • By the early 19th century, royalty started to take on the tradition of Christmas trees and since the 19th-20th century, Christmas trees have been used in churches. In the early 20th century, Christmas trees were being displayed in public at parks and streets.
  • In Russia the Christmas tree was banned not long after the October Resolution but the tree was introduced again, as the New Year fir tree, in 1935.
  • The traditional Christmas tree decorations are tinsel, baublesChristmas lights, angel or star topper and sometimes homemade decorations, and public trees are often decorated with items and foods that wildlife like.
  • Approximately 33-36 million Christmas trees are produced per year in America and England produces 50-60 million per year.  By 1998, there were about 15,000 American growers of evergreen Christmas trees.
  • Between 2001-2007, Christmas tree sales in the United States went from 7.3 million sales up to a huge 17.4 million sales.
Bibliography:
Christmas tree 6 November 2012, Wikipedia, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_tree>
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