The Short, Sad, Stupid Story of the Last Tree of Ténéré, Once Called the Most Remote Tree in the World

The Short, Sad, Stupid Story of the Last Tree of Ténéré

The Short, Sad, Stupid Story of the Last Tree of Ténéré

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Nov. 26 2015 12:30 PM

The Last Tree of Ténéré

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A recent study estimated that there are around 3 trillion trees currently on earth.

This is down by about 46 percent over the last 12,000 years as human populations have expanded. Three trillion is still a lot of trees, though. Among those 3 trillion trees are a very small handful of celebrities—trees famous for their very old age or their great size or, as in the case of the last tree of Ténéré, their tenacity to survive. 

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The last tree of Ténéré's brother from another arboreal mother is the Tree of Life in Bahrain. Also known as the Sharajat-al-Hayat or Tree of Life, it has stood as the only tree in a remote and harsh desert environment for over 400 years. Said to survive without a water source it is seen as miraculous. The tree has been cited as the location of the Garden of Eden.

It's not the only tree with a claim on the Garden of Eden. In the Iraqi city of Qurna, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is claimed to be the tree that Eve plucked the fated apple from. It is dead now but does not appear to have been an apple tree in life. (God works in mysterious ways.)  

In another apparent miracle in Buford, Wyoming, a tree has sprouted from a rock. The tree was discovered by railroad workers in 1860. One hundred and fifty years later it's still there, in the median between road lanes, surrounded by a small fence, growing stubbornly out of the middle of a large boulder. It now boasts a historical plaque. 

tree1
The Bialbero di Casorzo.

Photo: alfio cioffi/Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons

Trees can grow in a number of odd places, including on other trees. The Bialbero Di Casorzo is one such tree. A fully grown cherry tree growing on top of a fully grown mulberry tree, it too has been given a small fence in its honor. In Atlanta, Georgia, there is the Tree That Owns Itself, perhaps the only tree in the world with its own legal rights. In Belgium, there is the well-known "tree that Caesar tied his horse to" that Caesar almost certainly didn't tie his horse to.  

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Of course, there are also actual "last trees." Found on a hill called the Piton Grand Bass, in the cloud forest of the island of Mauritius, are the last two Bois Dentelle trees, which are exactly what they sound like. Wavering on the very edge of extinction, the trees have since been saved and a nursery to grow more Bois Dentelle trees has been established. 

Finally there are the trees that were just too beloved in life to give up on in death. The last tree of Ténéré was dutifully moved to the National Museum of Niger, where its dead trunk stands in its own small enclosure. Same for the Burmis Tree in Alberta, Canada. The Burmis tree died in 1978, the final symbol of a mining town that had died long before. Instead of turning it into firewood, the town has been lovingly caring for the dead trunk since. The tree was blown over in a storm in 1998 and promptly placed back up with new supports to keep it standing. In 2004 someone sawed off one of its branches. The branch was recovered, reattached with glue and and given a crutch to support itself.

Tree love transcends tree death.  

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