Survivor Trees: Hiroshima’s Phoenix Trees

June 16, 2009 at 5:00 am 4 comments

By DelosJ
Calling All Survivor Tree Links!
This blog is hosting the Festival of the Trees on July 1st. Please submit any related posts, articles or photos about resilient, determined or inspirational trees!

When the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, a majority of its buildings were completed destroyed. With landscapes demolished, soils charred and radiation rampant, Dr. Harold Jacobsen, a scientist from the Manhattan Project, told the Washington Post Hiroshima “will be barren of life and nothing will grow for 75 years.”

Phoenix Trees in 1945 (Photo by Eric Kim)

The trees had a different idea.

Chinese Parasol trees (aka Phoenix Trees) about 1300 meters from hypocenter, had no major structures between them and the blast. They were hit hard. They lost all of their branches and their trunks were hallowed out and burned on the side facing the blast. They were assumed, and understandably so, to be dead. But the very next spring, new leaves budded.

Some trees provide us with shelter. Some trees provide us with food. The Chinese Parasol trees provided the citizens of Hiroshima with something else they desperately needed.

Seeing this new life, people dazed by the tumultuous aftermath of the atomic bombing and the war took courage.

City of Hiroshima Website

Over 60 years and one transplant later, the trees still survive, reminding us that is it possible to recover and rebuild.

Phoenix Tree in 2007 (Photo by Eric Kim)

P.S. The Phoenix Trees were not alone! A number of species survived the atomic blast. You can read about them at Survivors: The A-Bombed Trees of Hiroshima or purchase the related book from

P.S.S. A big Hat Tip to chriggy for introducing me to the Phoenix Trees with his Hiroshima Set on Flickr!

Entry filed under: Survivor Tree, trees.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. scienceguy288  |  June 16, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    Nature is a wonderful force. I am glad that we will never be able to control it!

  • 2. Survivor Trees: Bahrain’s Tree of Life « TGAW  |  June 23, 2009 at 6:26 am

    […] far, the Survivor Tree series has highlighted trees that recovered from bombings– Hiroshima and Oklahoma City. But a tree does not have to survive man-made tragedies to be impressive. It […]

  • 3. Festival of the Trees – Edition 37 « TGAW  |  June 30, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    […] spring, trees budded. This month on TGAW, I covered the stories of two A-bomb survivors– the Phoenix Trees in Hiroshima and the Sanno Shrine Camphor Trees in Nagasaki. Hiroshi Sunairi of Tree Project has organized a […]

  • 4. Keith G. Tidball  |  December 3, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    I wish I hadn’t been late to your “Survivor Trees” Festival. Very nice compilation. I will be mentioning your blog at a presentation I am giving at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting in Philadelphia this week, entitled “Trees and Rebirth: Ritual and Symbol in Community-based Urban Reforestation Recovery Efforts in Post-Katrina New Orleans.”

    This is an area that I work in, see: and

    I applaud your work. Thanks very much.


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