Myth, tradition, inspiration, culture, religion, and many other aspects of human life are written into the rings of history within a tree's trunk. In fact, trees would do just fine if humans ceased to exist—but humans would almost surely die without trees. They reduce carbon dioxide while producing oxygen, moderate ecosystems, prevent erosion, provide shelter, building materials, energy, and even nutrition.
Because of their nearly innumerable benefits, people throughout time have attibuted greater meaning to trees. A common motif that appears again and again in various cultures and religions is the Tree of Life. Depending on where you look, the Tree of Life offers the threshold between life and death (Egypt), grants you immortality once every 3,000 years (China), or supports and connects the underworld, the earth, and the stars (Mesoamerica).
The above pictured Tree of Life is found in the middle of a desert in Bahrain, miles from any other living organism or source of water. It is a 400-year-old mesquite tree, whose roots can sometimes grow to over 160 feet, making it resilient in arid climates. While some people like to think it is the tree of good and evil mentioned in the Bible, locals attibute other spiritual powers to it and have their own occult pracitces surrounding it.
Whatever the case may be, extraordinary trees like this cause legends to flourish and attact visitors from around the world to catch a glimpse of their leafy awesomeness. The following gallery will lift your roots up with amazing trees and their stories.
(Photo: David Steele/Getty)