Walking Tree Wanna-Be

May 25, 2007 at 9:25 pm 3 comments

A few weeks ago, Brian Vandervort sent me this picture he took in Costa Rica.  It’s of a “Walking Tree”.  By adding and subtracting roots, this tree actually moves itself to better sunlight and soil!

Walking Tree
Walking Tree in Costa Rica

Last week at Apple Orchard Falls, I saw a tree that looked like it aspired to its Costa Rica relatives.

Weird Tree at Apple Orchard Falls
Walking Tree of Southwest Virginia?

I’m not sure what caused this unique root structure (other trees had their roots firmly underground, so I don’t think it is an erosion issue), but this tree sure looks like it wants to go somewhere.

Additional Links
Thinking Like a Tree article from MIT
Google Answers Thread on Walking Palms

Entry filed under: Apple Orchard Falls, Apple Orchard Mountain, Costa Rica, Hiking, trees, Walking Tree.

Home… for about 36 Hours Early Morning Send Off

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. geekhiker  |  May 26, 2007 at 12:38 am

    I wonder if the tree you photographed might be the result of a nurse log.

    In the Redwood forests in Northern California, when a large redwood falls after 2,000 years or so, other plants start to grow on it as it decays (hence “nurse log”). A nurse log will support more life in death than it did in life, and young redwood (or other species) will extend it’s roots around the sides of the tree to the forest floor. Eventually, the nurse log decays away and you’re left with a tree very similar to yours.

    I’d never seen them outside of the Redwoods, but perhaps they exist in eastern forests as well?

  • 2. tgaw  |  May 26, 2007 at 7:45 am

    That sounds very plausible. I have seen plenty of trees in the area growing around logs and rocks. A rock wouldn’t disappear, but a dead tree would over time!

  • 3. Kristin  |  November 18, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    I was looking for a photo of a walking tree to share with a friend when I found your site. I have seen the walking trees in Panama and Costa Rica–very unusual, but I assure you they do uproot themselves and move to more hospitable soil. and or, sun. I remain fascinated by them!

    The tree first uproots its roots on the side of the tree that it wants to leave. These roots eventually die and meanwhile the otherside of the tree grows stronger roots that go deep into the earth and eventually pulls the tree to the new desired location. They can actually move a considerable distance over time.


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