Thursday, November 3, 2011

Top 10 Magnificent Living Trees

This lister loves trees for their beauty, serenity and their ability to make humans look thoroughly insignificant. The next time you walk by one, you are walking by something that may have seen a substantial portion of our species’s history. They are the inspiration for tons of art, through all periods, across all genres. Now here are the top 10 huge trees which is living for ages...

10. Llangernyw Yew tree, Wales 


It is a yew tree growing in the churchyard of Llangernyw, Wales, and its core trunk died long ago, leaving its current appearance: several huge trunks having separated from the original. These trunks did not sprout after the original died, but were homogeneous sections of the original until its core died, whereupon they separated and continued to live off the same roots. Without the core, counting the tree’s rings cannot be accomplished. The trunks have a total circumference of about 33 feet. Yew trees are extremely difficult to age, even with radio-carbon dating, and thus, their ages are usually estimates. This one is estimated to be at least 4,000 years old, and may be 5,000, making it the third oldest known, living, single organism on the Planet. It is not merely still alive; it is still getting bigger. This species of Yew grows very straight, and its wood possesses extraordinary strength, flexibility, and durability, making it the best wood, by far, for English longbows. It is generally accepted that because the Llangernyw Yew grows in a church cemetery founded about the 1200s AD, it escaped being cut down for such use throughout most of the English longbow’s storied history.

9. The Major Oak Sherwood Forest, England 


It is believed that if there was a Robin Hood, he and his merry men took shelter under this tree, and even inside its trunk, when Sherwood Forest was much larger and easy to disappear into. It is at least 800 years old, and maybe 1,000, making its use by people of Robin Hood’s time possible. It would have already stood close to its present size by that time. The canopy spreads to 92 feet, but its trunk is what visitors are most awed by: 33 feet in circumference. It stands about 53 feet, and its branches have been so massive as to need to be supported by posts since Victoria took the throne, lest they break off under their own weight. This would not kill the tree, but it would ruin its appearance, and thus, Great Britain has seen to its welfare. 260 of its acorns have grown into saplings, planted southwest in Dorset as a study of the Major Oak’s DNA, and what its descendants will look like.

8. The Olive Tree of Vouves Crete 


It is the oldest known olive tree on Earth, with a tree ring age of at least 2,000 years. Carbon daters have estimated it to be about 4,000 years old, and it still produces tasty olives today. It is 15 feet thick at the base, is not particularly tall, as olive trees go, but is, quite literally, gnarly. Totally gnarly. The trunk is magnificently swirled, knotted, and bulbous. This one may be the tree Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD) wrote of when mentioning a sacred Greek olive tree 1,600 years old in his lifetime. Though the olive trees growing in the Garden of Gethsemane, in Jerusalem, have not yet been verified to date back to the time of Jesus, several are claimed to be that old, and this tree is the same species, lending great credence to the possibility.

7. Pando Utah, USA 


Pando is Latin for “I spread.” It is not one tree. It is about 47,000 quaking aspen trees, all growing from a single root system. That root system is spread over 106 acres, is about 80,000 years old, and experts have no idea when it will die. It weighs about 6,600 tons, making it the heaviest organism of any kind known to exist in the Universe. The experts are fairly certain that it has not flowered for the last 10,000 years, thus the end of the last Ice Age. Every time a wildfire has burned down all its trees, the root system has survived underground and started anew. Each tree lives for about 130 years, dies, and is reconstituted through the roots and becomes a new tree, elsewhere, nearby. The trees reproduce by means of suckers, which are lateral roots sent out from each trunk until they sprout out of the dirt. These trees don’t look identical, but they have an identical genetic makeup, all spreading from one root system to form a single genetic individual, called a clonal colony. In fall, the leaves change to the color of gold brick and seem to glow in the sunlight.

6. The Chestnut of a Hundred Horses, Sicily 


It grows on the eastern slopes of the very fertile Mount Etna volcanic soil, on Sicily, only 5 miles from the crater. It is estimated to be at least 2,000 years old, and very possibly as old as 4,000, making it the oldest chestnut tree ever known, and the largest. In 1780, it was a single trunk measuring 190 feet in circumference at chest-height. It has since split into multiple trunks with empty space in the middle, but all the trunks share a single root system. Unlike #7, however, these trunks have not died. They are the same wood and branches as were seen by humans 2,000 to 4,000 years ago. This means it is at least 1,000 years older than King David of the Old Testament. The name comes from a legend that tells of a medieval queen of Aragon taking shelter under it with 100 knights, during a thunderstorm. The tree was able to cover all 101 people. Because it is the oldest known chestnut, much older than average, botanists have no idea when it will die. It is as healthy now as chestnuts that die of old age at 1,000 years.


5. General Sherman, California, USA 


Gen. Sherman is only 275 feet tall. Compare that to the average oak tree, which grows to about 75 to 90 feet. General Sherman is a Giant Sequoia, not a Coast Redwood, and not even close to the tallest (see #2). What it is, however, is the most massive, non-clonal tree in the world, by volume. It has 52,513 cubic feet of wood in its trunk. This does not count branches. It is somewhere between 2,300 and 2,700 years old, which means it might have sprouted about the time the Book of Isaiah was written, before the Battle of Thermopylae. Its largest and most famous branch broke off on its own in 2006. It was in the shape of a golf club in pictures dating before then, and the tree discarded it as a defense mechanism in adverse climate conditions. That branch was larger than most trees, 6 feet thick, over 100 feet long, and required a flatbed truck to be taken away, after it was cut up. It fell 130 feet and left a crater in the cement walkway around the tree. At chest-height from the ground, the trunk is 25 feet thick, making General Sherman 10 times thicker than the average full-grown oak. General Sherman’s root ball covers almost 2 full acres and contains over 100,000 cubic feet of dirt. That’s more than enough to fill up an Olympic-size swimming pool, and it sprouted from a seed that weighed 1/6000th of one ounce.


4. Jomon Sugi, Japan 


It is on the north side of Miyanoura-dake, the tallest mountain on Yakoshima Island, south of Kyushu. It is a cryptomeria conifer, called sugi in Japanese, 83 feet tall, 53 feet around at the base, and like yews, carbon dating accuracy is difficult to achieve from it. Its rings have been used to give an age of at least 2,000 years. Beyond this, the sources vary dramatically, going all the way up to 7,000. The tree grows in a very rugged area, 4 to 5 hours from the nearest road, and was not even discovered to be important until 1968. In 2005, souvenir hounds cut off a 4 square inch piece of its bark. It is now viewable only from an observation deck 50 feet away and is under armed guard. It is the oldest conifer in Japan

3. The Tule Tree, Mexico


It stands 116 feet tall on the church ground of Santa Maria del Tule, Oaxaca, Mexico, and has the distinction of having the single widest trunk of any tree known on Earth: 38.1 feet in diameter. This is stouter than any known sequoia or coast redwood. The best estimate so far of its age dates it to anywhere from 1,400 to 1,600 years old. This actually concurs with a local Zapotec legend that tells of its planting 1,400 years ago by, Ehecatl, the Aztec wind god. It is stout enough to completely cover the average American house.

2. Hyperion, California 


Hyperion is a Coast Redwood, and has the distinction of being the tallest living organism ever measured. It is 379.3 feet tall. That’s 38 stories, 50 feet taller than the tallest habitable building in Washington, D. C. It grows in Redwood National Park and was not even discovered until 25 August, 2006, because all the trees around it are also redwoods, and are all gargantuan. Like all redwoods and sequoias (very similar species), Hyperion is so enormous that it possesses its own ecosystem, with full-size pines and hemlocks growing on its branches. It is so high that if you could avoid the branches (and other trees) on the way down, BASE jumping would be no problem at all. There are no confirmed photos of it on the Internet, because scientists don’t want it disturbed or damaged by tourists. Like the Giant Sequoia, you can fit about 10 coast redwood seeds on the face of a dime.

1. The Methuselah Tree, California


It is a Bristlecone Pine Tree, named after the oldest person in the Bible whose age is given. The Methuselah Tree is generally held to be the oldest living, individual organism on Earth, measured at 4,842 years and counting. The Bristlecone Pine species can take 700 years to grow 3 feet. It is located in the Bristlecone Forest of the Ancients, in Inyo National Park, in the White Mountains of Eastern California. Its precise location has not been divulged out of concern for its protection. Bristlecone Pines do not grow particularly tall, reaching 50 feet, with a trunk diameter of anywhere from 8 to 12 feet, making for a squat, solid tree, but what they lack in grandiose height they more than make up for by outlasting every other single organism on the planet. Methuselah still isn’t the oldest known. That was Prometheus, which was at least 20 years older than Methuselah now, before it was mistakenly cut down in 1964 by a dendrology student who had no idea how old it was. Prometheus might have been 5,000 years old or more, and Methuselah shows no signs of disease or weakness in any way. Researchers expect it to reach 5,000. Let’s put that into perspective. It sprouted out of the ground in c. 2832 BC. That’s about 1,500 years before Moses was born. Back then, Egypt’s Second Dynasty was just getting going and the earliest Egyptian pyramids would not be built for another 200 years. Methuselah is about 800 years older than the Maya civilization. Biblical literalists (this lister not among them, in this case) like to theorize that the Methuselah Tree was the first living thing to appear on Earth (aside from the things in the various boats) after Noah’s Flood. That’s dubious, at best, but it’s a fun idea.

The Tree of Tenere - Was Once World’s Most Remote Tree...

This tree once lived in Northeast Niger, in the Tenere area of the south central Sahara Desert, 250 miles away from absolutely anything except the Saharan desert sand. It was an Acacia tortillas tree, the species made famous in the Serengeti by grazing giraffes. The Tree of Tenere is now no more, because it was knocked down by a drunken truck driver, In 1973. Today, there is a metal sculpture in its place as a memorial. It lived next to a 130-foot deep well, and the only reason there is almost no vegetation in the Sahara Desert is because the water table is at least 110 feet under the surface of the earth throughout the Desert.


The tree’s roots somehow grew 120 feet long, reaching the water table, and thus enabled it to grow in a place so inhospitable that it was the remotest tree in the world. Today the world’s most remote tree is believed to be a Norwegian Spruce on Campbell Island, south of New Zealand. It is the only tree on the island, and the next nearest are over 120 miles away on the Auckland Islands.


Acacia trees have been planted several times in the Tenere tree’s spot, but none has lasted in the arid climate. How it was able to survive for the 20 to 40 years its roots would have taken to reach the water table remains a mystery, but it might have grown through the walls of the well and received all the water it needed as it descended.

2012 Campari Calendar - Featuring Milla Jovovich

The 2012 Campari calendar featuring Milla Jovovich: It’s the end of the world, baby! 

The 2012 Campari calendar has been unveiled in Milan. Entitled "It’s the end of the world, baby!", the 13th edition of the calendar takes its inspiration from the buzz around the prediction that, according to the ancient Mayan culture, the world as we know it will end on 21st December 2012. Hollywood actress and model Milla Jovovich is depicted in various apocalyptic scenarios such as floods and hurricanes to meteor strikes and alien invasions.


January: Dress made by Yann Weber, glitter shoes by Walter Steiger, panache necklace and pony cuff bracelet by Swarovski.


February: Feather dress by Izmaylova, white gold and diamond ring by Vhernier.


March: Crumpled and hand painted saffron organza draped long dress by Stéphane Rolland, rhinestone necklace by Paco Rabanne.


April: Wine coloured radzimir draped long dress and leather gloves by Stéphane Rolland


May: Long satin crêpe black sweater dress veiled in black organza with black organza leaves by Stéphane Rolland, full pavé diamond cuff bracelet by Messika.


June: Dress made by Yann Weber, rose gold necklace and bracelet by Vhernier.


July: Dress made by Yann Weber, purple red ring and earrings by Swarovski.


August: Dress made by Yann Weber, black rhinestone sandals by René Caovilla, Pandora necklace and move full pavé cuff bracelet in white gold and diamonds by Messika.


September: Patent leather shoes by Walter Steiger.


October: Glitter top by Manish Arora, rose gold ring Vhernier.


November: Coated satin dress and gloves made by Yann Weber, silk spiky necklace black gold and white diamond by Messika.


December: Dress by Swarovski.


Back cover: Brandy coloured silk satin crêpe jumpsuit by Stéphane Rolland, rhinestone sandals by René Caovilla, earrings and ring in rose gold and corneliane by Vhernier.

35 Amazing Facts About the Human Body You Hardly Know...

35 Stunning Facts About the Human Body

  1. Scientists say the higher your I.Q. The more you dream. 
  2. The largest cell in the human body is the female egg and the smallest is the male sperm.
  3. You use 200 muscles to take one step. 
  4. The average woman is 5 inches shorter than the average man. 
  5. Your big toes have two bones each while the rest have three. 
  6. A pair of human feet contains 250,000 sweat glands.
  7. A full bladder is roughly the size of a soft ball. 
  8. The acid in your stomach is strong enough to dissolve razor blades.
  9. The human brain cell can hold 5 times as much information as the Encyclopedia Britannica. 
  10. It takes the food seven seconds to get from your mouth to your stomach. 
  11. The average human dream lasts 2-3 seconds.
  12. Men without hair on their chests are more likely to get cirrhosis of the liver than men with hair. 
  13. At the moment of conception, you spent about half an hour as a single cell.
  14. There are about one trillion bacteria on each of your feet. 
  15. Your body gives off enough heat in 30 minutes to bring half a gallon of water to a boil. 
  16. The enamel in your teeth is the hardest substance in your body. 
  17. Your teeth start growing 6 months before you are born. 
  18. When you are looking at someone you love, your pupils dilate, and they do the same when you are looking at someone you hate.
  19. Your thumb is the same length of your nose.
  20. The lungs contain over 300,000 million capillaries (tiny blood vessels). If they were laid end to end, they would stretch 2400km (1500 miles).
  21. Human bone is as strong as granite in supporting weight. A block of bone the size of a matchbox can support 9 tonnes – that is four times as much as concrete can support.
  22. Each finger and toenail takes six months to grow from base to tip.
  23. When you sleep, you grow by about 8mm (0.3in). The next day you shrink back to your former height. The reason is that your cartilage discs are squeezed like sponges by the force of gravity when you stand or sit.
  24. The average person in the West eats 50 tonnes of food and drinks 50,000 liters (11,000 gallons) of liquid during his life. 
  25. The focusing muscles of the eyes move around 100,000 times a day. To give your leg muscles the same workout, you would need to walk 80km (50 miles) every day.
  26. Each kidney contains 1 million individual filters. They filter an average of around 1.3 liters (2.2 pints) of blood per minute, and expel up to 1.4 liters (2.5 pints) a day of urine. 
  27. The eyes receive approximately 90 percent of all our information, making us basically visual creatures.
  28. The female ovaries contain nearly half-a-million egg cells, yet only 400 or so will ever get the opportunity to create a new life.
  29. A single human blood cell takes only 60 seconds to make a complete circuit of the body.  
  30. Nerve impulses to and from the brain travel as fast as 170 miles (274 km) per hour.
  31. It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open. 
  32. Your stomach needs to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks or it would digest itself. 
  33. It takes the interaction of 72 different muscles to produce human speech.
  34. The average life of a taste bud is 10 days.
  35. 15 million blood cells are destroyed in the human body every second.

World Most Crooked Street

In the U.S. city of San Francisco's Russian Hill is located on the most crooked streets in the world. Lombard Street the name of this famous street, which has a 27% slope, and the speed on it is limited to 8 kilometers per hour.

Top 10 Unique Trees Around the World

Trees are boring. All they do is stand there, occasionally looking pretty in the winter or dropping fruit in the autumn. Except trees are fascinating organisms. They live on a timescale that is hard to relate to human life, and because they act so slowly we often do not notice what they are doing. Here are ten particularly unusual trees; unusual either because of their biology or because humans have changed them in some way.

10. Sculpted Trees 


Arborsculpture is the use of living trees to create a desired shape or structure, something like bonsai on a grand scale. Axel Erlandson is considered the greatest of all arborsculptors and his ‘Circus trees’ are still popular attractions. Through directing the growth of the tree while alive, it is also possible to create unique pieces of furniture by harvesting the wood once it takes on the desired form. While Erlandson’s work, seen here (http://www.arborsmith.com/treecircus.html), is the most commonly cited when arbor sculpture is discussed, there are many living practitioners.

9. The Boab Prison Tree 


Outside the town of Derby, in Western Australia, is another tree that has been put to use by mankind. The Boab Prison Tree is so named because its stout trunk, 14m in circumference, has been cut into to form a small cell used as a prison. Police who were walking their prisoners into town would use the tree as a temporary holding cell overnight before carrying on to their final destination. The Boab is approximately 1500 years old, and visitors are asked to view it from behind a fence to stop it being damaged, however few resist the temptation to go inside. The Boab of Derby is not the only Boab tree turned into a prison, there is another of comparable size outside the town of Wyndham, which is less often visited due to its isolation.

8. Dragon Blood Tree  


The Socotra Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Somalia, is home to the Dragon Blood tree. The Dragon Blood tree is unusual for a number of reasons. Its trunk is bare and branches only at the top, ending in sharp spiky leaves. This unusual appearance is due to the Dragon Blood tree belonging to the monocotyledons, the same group of plants as grasses, rather than dicotyledons, which are more common amongst trees. As well as an unusual exterior, the trees also reveal an unusual interior; once pierced bright red sap oozes out. The crimson sap, called Dragon Blood, is dried and then used as a medicine or a dye. While the inhabitants of Socotra still use it as a panacea, the sap is mostly used in the West as a red varnish for violins.

7. Jabuticaba 


Jabuticaba, Myrciaria cauliflora, is an unusual fruit tree native to Brazil. The fruit of the tree grow all over the trunk, and not just in the branches, making it look like the tree is extruding oily tears. The small black fruit are almost universally compared to grapes and are either eaten whole or crushed to make juice or wine. Almost as strange as the appearance of the black fruits are the hairy white blossoms from which the fruit grow. The tree will bloom, and fruit, several times a year if the conditions are good.

6. Pennantia baylisiana 


What is special about this tree? It looks just like many other trees and does not do anything particularly exciting. This tree is unusual in the literal sense of uncommon as it is, in fact, the rarest tree we know of in the wild. There is a single example of this tree in the Three Kings Islands off the north coast of New Zealand. Since the lone example of the tree is female there is no hope of breeding more. In cases of self-pollination the fruit are almost always sterile. Luckily, however, it is possible to detach shoots and culture them so the species can now be found in several places, but for true survival of the species it would be advantageous to locate a male Pennantia baylisiana.

5. Kauri Tree


Everyone knows about the giant redwoods, famous for their size, but the kauri tree of northern New Zealand is one of the largest trees, by volume of wood, in the world. The trees can be up to 50m tall and 15m in circumference. This is less tall than a sequoia but the kauri does not narrow as the redwood does towards its top. Because of the strength of the wood and the amount a single tree could yield, the Kauri was heavily logged in the 19th century. Kauri Gum – semi-fossilized resin – was once a major commodity used to make varnish. People who extracted the gum from buried deposits were known as Gum-diggers. The density of the wood allows it to survive well once buried, and workable wood is dug up after being buried in bogs for over 50,000 years.

4. Boojum Tree 


The Boojum tree of Baha California resembles a cactus more than a tree at first sight. The thin trunks of the tree can grow in sinuous shapes because the inner wood is remarkably soft and they grow up to 20m high. As a native of the desert, the leaves of the plant are small and cover the trunk to reduce water loss. When the trees flower they produce a cloud of cream blooms at the very top of the trunks. The Boojum tree derives its name from the absurd poem ‘The Hunting of the Snark’ by Lewis Carroll, which is appropriate for the unusual looking tree.

“But if ever I meet with a Boojum, 
that day, In a moment (of this I am sure),
I shall softly and suddenly vanish away — 
And the notion I cannot endure!”  

3. Rainbow Eucalyptus  


The Rainbow Eucalyptus is a tree with bark so brightly colored that it is almost hard to believe that it is not an elaborate practical joke. This tree, native to the Philippines, sheds the outer layer of its bark often to expose new, green bark underneath. As the bark ages it goes through several color changes from green, to blue, to purple, to orange, and finally to brown before being shed. Because the bark is shed in irregular patches the tree displays a collection of all these colors at once giving a kaleidoscopic effect. They can be grown in many places which will not experience frosts but in the Philippines they are mostly cultivated for use in paper manufacture and not as decorative trees.

2. Root Bridges


Root bridges are a specialized form of arboriculture practiced in the forests of northern India. The rubber trees of the Cherrapunji have been exploited for centuries by the Khasis people to grow their own bridges over streams and rivers. To grow your own bridge you need to hollow out a log, lay the log over the gap you wish to cross, and direct the roots of the tree to grow into the log. The roots will grow until they find solid earth to attach to, anchoring the bridge. Once the roots have formed a bridge, soil and stones, or other wood, are laid over them to protect them from damage as people cross.

1. Chapel Oak 


Le Chêne Chapelle (The Oak Chapel) in Allouville-Bellefosse is an oak which has been carved out to house two chapels within its enormous trunk. The oak itself is approximately 800 years old, and the chapels were added in the 1600s. A lightning strike burned the core of the tree but the tree survived and remained standing, allowing the local priests to build their chapel within it. Today the tree is beginning to show signs of its age and the pressures of housing a religious site, and so requires supporting struts. Despite this, the chapel remains in use and a mass is celebrated twice a year at the site. To reach the upper of the two chapels there is a staircase which winds around the trunk.