8 of the Creepiest Trees on Earth

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Take a look at these eight scary trees.

If you’ve never thought of a tree as scary, think of the grumpy apple trees in The Wizard of Oz or the Tree of the Dead in Sleepy Hollow. The way their branches look like arms and the way you can sometimes make out faces in their bark make them look very scary. As an example, the teak trees in southern Africa “bleed” and the cypress trees in the U.S. have roots that stick out of the swamps.

The eight scariest trees in the world range from a warty Brazilian grape tree to a Canadian pine tree that won’t die, with some of the scariest types in between.

Sakisima-Suonoki Trees

joka2000 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
joka2000 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Sakisima-suonoki trees are very different and definitely creepy because their roots are shaped like blades. For this species to grow in Japan’s subtropical areas, its roots have to reach up into the sky to make up for the high humidity and lack of sunlight. This makes for a strange scene where the tree looks like it’s held in place by wavy, woody mermaid tails.

Joshua Trees

M.Kolchins / Getty Images
M.Kolchins / Getty Images

Joshua trees are actually plants, not real trees. They are Yucca plants, which love the desert. Still, most people think of them as trees because they have woody roots and branches that are spread out and topped with pom-poms of spiky leaves.

Joshua trees are native to the southwestern United States. They look strange in the hot Mojave Desert. These fake trees have a pretty creepy reputation, maybe because they look more like tree skeletons than real trees, especially when they’re surrounded by huge areas of what looks like post-apocalyptic nothingness.

Explorer John C. Frémont, who was famous for leading trips to the Far West in the 1800s, was the first person to write down that they existed. The Joshua tree had a “stiff and ungraceful form,” which he called “the most repulsive tree in the vegetable kingdom.”

Angkor Wat’s Strangler Figs

Santiago Urquijo / Getty Images
Santiago Urquijo / Getty Images

These figs have grown on top of the world’s biggest temple complex. Not all figs are as scary as these ones. The famous Angkor Wat ruins in Cambodia, which are 900 years old, are being taken over by huge “strangler figs” (Ficus gibbosa) and even bigger silk-cotton trees. Their big roots snake around old, falling apart pavilions and around doors like scary snakes. A big part of the complex’s most famous building, the Ta Prohm temple, is being eaten away by trees.

Bloodwood Trees

Ekaterina Lutokhina / Getty Images
Ekaterina Lutokhina / Getty Images

The bloodwood tree is a type of teak that grows in southern Africa, mostly near the border between Namibia and Angola. Its gray-brown bark looks like the bark of almost any other oak tree, but what’s below it is really cold. The tree is called “bloodwood” because when it gets cut or hurt, it “bleeds” bright red sap. The sap that these trees give off actually covers and heals cuts, just like real blood would.

Bald Cypresses

Mike DelGaudio / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Mike DelGaudio / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Flickr user Mike DelGaudio shared this photo under a CC BY 2.0 license.
The southeast U.S.’s bald cypress is scary for more than just the fact that it grows well in snake- and alligator-filled swamps. It also often grows roots that look like twisted, skeleton hands and fingers that stick out of the water. A pneumatophore is the name for this type of root. It’s thought to help get air to the roots that are underwater and may also help hold the tree in place.

The Burmis Tree

wwing / Getty Images
wwing / Getty Images

The Burmis Tree is an important piece of history and a popular tourist spot in Alberta, Canada. This pine tree is very old—600 to 750 years old—and has lost all of its leaves. It died in the 1970s. The tree stood empty for about 20 years after it died, with the beautiful Canadian Rockies in the background. It finally fell over in 1998. But by that time, the people of Burmis had grown attached to it and decided to use stainless steel to support it.

Brazilian Grapetrees

TacioPhilip / Getty Images
TacioPhilip / Getty Images

In South America, this strange tree is called a Jabuticaba. It only grows in sunny, tropical parts of Brazil, not in dark woods or swamps like some other creepy species. When it makes its deep purple fruits, though, it can look pretty scary. People often say that these fruits taste like grapes. They grow on the tree’s bark instead of its branches like fruit-bearing trees do. When it’s in season, the tree almost looks like it has big warts all over it.

Walking Palms

GaiBru_Photo / Getty Images
GaiBru_Photo / Getty Images

The walking palm is another scary tree species that is only found in South America. It is known for growing legs that let it “walk” from shade to sunlight or away from where it germinated. The tree has some features that make it look like a person, which can be amazing or creepy, based on how you look at it. Of course, you wouldn’t want to find a huge, walking palm that looks like a person in the jungle.

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