Northern Rātā Walks Off with Tree of the Year Award

The third annual Tree of the Year award, sponsored by the New Zealand Arboricultural Association, has been won by a 32-meter tall northern rātā (Metrosideros robusta) tree growing near Karamea. It garnered 42% of all votes in an online poll. This local favorite has earned the name "The Walking Tree" because it resembles an Ent from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings saga. Why does it grow like that? The northern rātā starts out as a type of parasite that grows on another tree. As it matures, it sends roots down to the ground, which then resemble trunks. So this tree grew down as well as up!

The Walking Tree is massive, and very old. When the land was cleared for farming in 1875, the farmer decided to leave this one standing. Read more about The Walking Tree and see the full photo in all its magnificence at The Guardian. -via Nag on the Lake

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