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most endangered tree types|tree on island|African Baobab Tree|Monkey Puzzle

Forest Bathing

5 Most Endangered Tree Types

It is more common to think of cute, furry monkeys, majestic whales, and the great coral reefs when thinking of lifeforms endangered by human activities then it is to think of trees. The truth is that trees are just as at-risk as many other lifeforms, and the greater truth is that if certain trees go extinct, whole ecosystems can be thrown out of equilibrium as a result. This would mean the extinction of many other species, so it is imperative that trees are treated the same as endangered animals when it comes to protection.

Many forests and specific tree types are in danger of dying out due to heavy demands made by human interests and development. As one of the planet’s “vital organs,” the prospect of dying forests and extinct trees doesn’t bode well for anybody, and definitely not the planet as a whole. Our global biomass of forests and vegetation works to purify and regulate the water, oxygen and carbon cycles upon which all life depends and counterbalances the rising levels of contamination.

These 5 trees below are some of the most at-risk, and they are truly magnificent examples of why it is so important that conservation efforts are made to save them and the ecosystems they support.

5 trees in danger of going extinct

tree on island St. Helena Gumwood, Commidendrum robustum

Sadly, some of the trees in danger if disappearing is some of the most visually appealing specimens on the planet. The St. Helena Gumwood flows with splendid asymmetry and balances a lush canopy on a gracefully curved trunk. The St. Helena blossoms toward the end of the year and the bountiful white flowers last until the end of the spring.

The St. Helena Gumwood grows on one island in the middle of the Atlantic, called St. Helena. When settlers arrived they made good use of the Gumwood for fuel and building materials. Numbers were further diminished by the presence of goats who acquired a taste for the seeds scattered across the island. The final blow came when the Jacaranda Bug arrived began sapping the fluids of the Gumwood and spreading disease. With the near disappearance of the St. Helena Gumwood, many local species have lost their natural habitat.

Hinton’s Oak (Encino of Hinton), Quercus Hintonii

In the lush montane ecosystems of Mexico grows the fascinating Hinton’s Oak, noted for its bright red springtime foliage that contrasts against the dark tones of its bark. At full height, the Hinton’s Oak is no more than 50 ft. tall and has a very distinctive aromatic profile, which is even more noticeable when burned . The wood itself is naturally beautiful and highly valued for the making furniture and handles for fine knives.

The demise of the Hinton’s Oak has been caused by a variety of factors. The aromatic qualities of this special wood are an important ingredient in preparing a special type of regional bread and unregulated harvesting has killed most of the population. Agriculture has also encroached on the humid montane passes where the Hinton lives. Some regions have been cleared to make room for coffee plantations. In others, grazing cattle have taken a special liking for the tasty young Hinton’s Oak sapling.

African Blackwood (Mpingo), Dalbergia melanoxylon

It’s not dead yet, but high demands for this exquisite material are pushing the beautiful African Blackwood into near extinction. As its name implies, the inner heartwood of the African Blackwood is dark and often confused with Ebony but is actually a rosewood. This fascinating tree thrives in rocky, infertile environments that would kill other trees. It takes over 70 years for the African Blackwood, or Mpingo, to reach maturity and even then it isn’t much taller than 9 feet.

The Blackwood is an especially tough tree and has been known to withstand forest fires; it is also a favorite among local herbivores who can always count on a good meal, even in dry seasons. But the biggest threat comes from the high commercial value of furniture, tools, musical instruments and other artifacts crafted from this especially beautiful wood. Fortunately, there is still hope for the African Blackwood and a conservation society has been formed to ensure this tree survives for future generations.

Monkey Puzzle Monkey Puzzle, Araucaria araucana

The Monkey Puzzle thrives in cold regions with plenty of water and is truly a remarkable tree that holds an important place in the hearts of the local Chilean people. The tree was an important part of traditional livelihoods and produced edible nuts that supplemented the locals’ meals in lean times. The most attention-grabbing aspect of this tree is the peculiar pine needles that coat the branches and twigs like floral scales of armor.

The Monkey Puzzle is alive and thriving, although it is often displayed as a “living fossil” in many of Europe’s most spectacular botanical gardens. Because the tree has a life expectancy of over a millennia, many future generations will be able to glimpse the final specimens. The once vast forests of Monkey Puzzles are threatened by logging, wildfires and the practice of chopping down their kind in order to grow many others of another kind, due to the large area the Monkey Puzzle takes up. Encouragingly, many South American countries are looking for ways to begin improving their populations of Monkey Puzzles through conversation and protection.

African Baobab Tree African Baobab Tree, Various Species of Adansonia

The silhouettes of the curious Baobab tree at sunrise is an iconic African image. There is even one specimen of this tree located in the southernmost tip of South Africa large enough to house the Sunland Baobab Pub, a bar that is built into the living body of a Baobab that is said to be more than 6,000 years old. The baobab has a wide range of different sizes, with some having as large of a diameter as 90 feet.

The baobab tree is useful in many ways and the unabated use of the trees are threatening their numbers. The fruit is used in a type of local porridge and even elephants find the seeds tasty. The tree and structure itself are useful and many are cut away to make gigantic water storage units. There are currently projects in progress that collect seeds, encourage more planting and attempt to replace trees that have been collected. With any luck, this should counterbalance the strain placed on this remarkable plant.

Final Thoughts on the Most Endangered Trees

Just like animals, trees fill an essential part in the ecosystems of the world. Humans especially enjoy the benevolence of trees in more ways than can be counted and without consideration for the trees. We use them for materials, food, medicine and more, and if we don’t curb our enthusiasm, their numbers may continue to reach more critical levels.

If you are a big fan of being green or simply enjoy the invigorating and pleasant scents of the forest, consider what this means to you. Take time today to get involved in a community planting project or find other ways to support those societies attempting to protect the trees in our shared forests. 1 , 2

Photo credits: DarrinHenry/, JezBennett/, James_Lindsay/

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