Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Wood You Believe These Trees

Sivi Sekula

Chewing gum owes its life to trees, as do loads of other everyday items you’d never have believed come from trees

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

 Mishpacha image

 

Giant Sequoias

If you live on the West Coast, I’m betting you’ve heard of the famous Giant Sequoias that grow in national parks across California. These sequoia trees (pronounced “see-koy-ah”) are so massive, you won’t be able to fit one into a photograph unless you’re standing very far away, or zooming out with your camera.

The tallest sequoia is a whopping 316-feet high — as tall as a 31-story building. And sequoias can live for about 3,000 years. The species found in California are really old, so have some respect, please.

Even though they’re so big, sequoias aren’t the tallest, widest, or even the oldest trees on the planet. But they are the largest in volume. Some of the most famous sequoias are so special, they even have their own names. “General Sherman” (named after the US Civil War hero) is found in Sequoia National Park. “He” is the largest living tree on earth by volume. With a height of 275 feet, and a trunk width of 100 feet, it weighs 642 tons. Or about the same as 107 elephants.

Your grandparents may remember a sequoia tree that cars could drive through. Up in Yosemite National Park, the Wawona tree served as a beloved tourist attraction for more than eight decades. In 1881, someone decided that it would be great fun to carve a tunnel through the base of the trunk. The tunnel ended up being large enough for vehicles to pass through, bringing hordes of visitors to the park every summer. Sadly, the Wawona tree didn’t make it to a ripe old age. It fell in a severe storm in the winter of 1969, at only 2,100 years old. Many fans believe that if not for the tunnel in its base, it would have lived another 1,000 years.



The Dragon Blood Tree

I did not make up that name. But it’s a pretty cool name, so we’ll keep it. The official name of this particular species of tree is “Socotra dragon tree.” Socotra is an island off the south-east coast of Yemen. The island’s strategic location in the Arabian Sea makes it home to several plant species native only to Socotra Island. The most famous of these rare species is the dragon blood tree. It’s famous for several reasons, but mostly because of its very bizarre shape. It looks like how your five-year-old sister or brother might draw a tree; a bit like an umbrella or a mushroom.

 

It grows like that because of the island’s climate. Socotra is very hot and very dry. But every summer, the monsoon season (which takes place in South and Southeast Asia between May and September) brings drizzle and sea mist to the island. The trees use the moisture in the air to stay hydrated. The water collects on its long waxy leaves, then trickles down the branches and trunk, seeps into the soil, and feeds the roots. The extra-wide canopy casts a shade on the ground above the roots, protecting it from the hot sun, which would otherwise evaporate the water before it reached the roots.

But what’s with the dragon blood name? Well, the tree’s sap is so red, it’s the color of blood. And the tree’s shape looks like something out of a myth, which explains the dragon part. The sap has been used for millennia to make all sorts of important things, such as medicines and dyes. Resin made from the sap is still used today. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 695)

Related Stories

Super Avi: Episode 11

Ruchama Schnaidman and Avi Newhouse

Avi shares with us how cancer changed his life in ways that will never allow him to be the person he...

Intersection of Kindness and Warmth

Simi Besser

Sunday mornings in Montreal see a cheerful, bearded crossing guard singing parshah rhymes, and bring...

Jr. Tales: Olives and Lemons Make Oil and Lemonade

Rhona Lewis

Nonna — Grandma — wasn’t smiling and standing over a pot of pasta sauce spiced with oregano, and Non...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you