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Forest Bathing

Popular Tree Types Around the World

If you have ever marveled at the ponderous girth of a Coastal Redwood, sampled the exquisite fruit of a mango tree or inhaled the magnificent aromatic compounds of Cedars and Pines, you know one thing for sure: trees are a magnificent gift to this planet. That's why we've centered them around our essential oil blends, like Forest —try it out and feel the terpenes that come from nature!

Trees exist in their fascinating variety in almost every region of the planet. If there is a corner of the planet that is suitable for life, there is a good chance a tree made it that way. Trees soften the environment to make way for other more delicate lifeforms and other trees to arrive.

With all the different types of trees all adapting to their own corner of the planet, speciation has produced a solution to each environment. This has made botanists and arborists speculate on the number of tree types in existence since the times of Joseph Banks and the renowned explorer Cpt. James Cook. But, it has only been recently that a proper figure has been produced from an extensive scientific study spanning over two years. The planet as we know it today would not exist if it weren’t for the transformative power of the popular tree types around the world.

 width= The Number of Tree Species on the Planet

Despite our innate dependence on trees, humanity has gone to the Moon and developed atomic power before obtaining a complete understanding of the forest. Up until just a couple of years ago, humans had no idea how many species of trees there were in the woods.

In 2017, the experts at BGCI, Botanical Gardens Conservation International, completed a monumental accomplishment that spanned two years and included a large-scale international investigation. The results are in and the number of individual tree species scattered across the planet stands at 60,650.

This project known as the “Global Tree Search” represents a groundbreaking accomplishment and provides copious information on understanding and protecting many of these endangered species. One of the most scathing facts that surfaced in the investigation was that over half of the planet’s species diversity from trees, only grow in a single country. A majority of these trees are also in danger of extinction.

More than 375,500 records are stored in a comprehensive database that drives the “Global Tree Search”. According to the project’s director and BGCI Secretary General, Dr. Paul Smith, even though the project seems long overdue, the sheer magnitude of the operation required coordination and “big science” work that may never have been possible before today, at least not with the same degree of accuracy.

The final stretch of work was accomplished in a painstaking 2 years. But in the end, the Global Tree Search represents the culmination of centuries of meticulous work and record keeping by the world’s greatest botanists and leading scientists.

Countries with the Most Diverse Tree Species  width=

Once completed, the collection of expert information can be analyzed and applied in a variety of ways. One of the first findings made by the team at BGCI was the number of total tree species on the planet, 60,065.

They were quick to note that this represents only 20% of the total plants in both the angiosperm and gymnosperm plant kingdoms. Angiosperms are the kingdom of flowering plants and include trees like the Baobab, Lilac, and Chestnut. The Gymnosperm plant kingdom contains pines, cypress, ginkgo biloba, and others. “Gymnosperm” comes from the Greek word meaning “naked seed” and describes the unenclosed aspect of seeds in pine cones, for example.

The countries with the highest tree species diversity were also calculated with Brazil taking first place with a grand total of 8,715 different tree species. These diverse species are native to the immense Amazon Rainforest. Because a large section of this same forest lies in the borders of Colombia, this South American country took second place with 5,776 tree species.

Rainforests and tropical climates seem to favor greater tree diversity as the third place went to Indonesia. This land of islands is well known for its rain forests that boast unique ecosystems and house many endangered species.

As you may imagine, there are no trees and forests in the northern extremes near the poles. While the vast boreal forests of Canada host the smallest tree diversity (about 1400 native species) they are also among the most densely populated forests in the world.

Popular Tree Types Country-Endemic Tree Species

The number of tree species that are native to a single country and no other location on earth was another startling discovery made by the BCGI team. If the calculations are correct— and they are— almost 60% of all tree species are native to a single country.

Those countries with the highest number of country-endemic trees typically feature a wide range of plant diversity. Not surprisingly, Brazil took first place followed by the island continent of Australia and the vast lands of China. Other countries with high numbers were those islands where isolated evolutionary progress resulted in high speciation. Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, and islands in Indonesia are some prime examples.

The Top Tree Rich Plant Families

Almost half of all trees (45%) come from a mere handful of plant families. The plant families with the most diverse tree species include:

Leguminosae -- Fabaceae

This family of angiosperms is best known for their value as a food source. Legumes and beans have formed a major part of the human diet for the last 10,000 years. Some well-known trees include gum and acacia trees. 1


Also called the Madder Family, some of the most essential and life-giving plant products come from the Rubiaceae family. The Cinchona tree has saved countless lives when the world depended on Quinine as an essential medicine. And who doesn’t need a good cup of coffee to begin their day? 2, 3


Sometimes called the Myrtle family, this faction of plants includes the Eucalyptus tree, which has been a source of essential oils and good health.

Final Notes on BCGI and the Global Tree Search popular tree types

While the information provided by the research can be applied to further human health and benefits in a number of ways, the true goals are quite different. BCGI’s primary goal in undertaking the documentation of tree diversity was to aid in the protection and preservation of popular tree types and forests everywhere.

The underlying purpose of the Global Tree Search is to form the foundation for a forthcoming effort for tree conservation set for 2020. The Global Tree Assessment will assess the status of trees on an international level in an effort to ensure no more diversity is lost. 5, 6

Photo Credits: welcomia/, Luisaazara/, Princess_Ahmitsu/, Soft_light/, Leoniskos/

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