Consider the Marvel of a Tree
FOR just a moment, think about a tree. Its boughs provide shade. Its fruits nourish life. Forests shelter wild creatures, prevent floods and shield the food-producing land.
Really, since the creation of humankind men have marveled at the strength and peacefulness of trees. The Bible refers to Lebanon’s cedars, trees that grew to a height of 120 feet (37 meters) and had trunks forty feet (12 meters) around. (1 Ki. 5:6) Yet there are far larger trees.
The Banyan tree of India consists of hundreds of rooted vines, and may cover an acre (.4 hectare) of ground. A Montezuma cypress in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, is 116 feet (35 meters) around and forty feet (12 meters) in diameter. Its age once was estimated at “10,000 years.” But it is now thought to be a number of trunks grown together, having a respectable though more reasonable age of perhaps 500 years.
Among tall trees, Australia’s eucalyptus stands high. A century ago one was reported to measure 433 feet (132 meters) to the point where its top had been broken off. Though there is doubt today about the accuracy of this measurement, there is no question that Australia’s eucalypti are among the tallest trees in the world.
The tallest presently living trees are thought to be the coast redwoods (Sequoia sermpervirens) that grow to exceptional heights in the fog-shrouded valleys of the northern California coast. Shadowy fluted columns of these graceful trees rise perfectly straight for as much as 200 feet (60 meters) before the first lateral branches reach out to form a high green vault over the forest’s peaceful floor. The tallest known redwood, discovered as recently as 1963, rises to a height of 366 feet (112 meters).
In striking contrast are nearby pygmy forests, where a grown man can bend down to touch the tops of trees that were growing before he was born. While visiting the towering redwood groves, you can stop at the pygmy forest in Russian Gulch State Park, about 120 miles (193 kilometers) north of San Francisco. There the soil has stunted tree growth to such an extent that fifteen-year-old pine and cypress trees are only six to ten inches (15 to 5 centimeters) high. Trees thought to be a century old are less than the height of a man. The world’s largest (though not tallest) trees are found about 120 miles (193 kilometers) inland, located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California.
What marvelous provisions for variety were incorporated in the first trees! The Biblical psalmist said that such things as “fruit trees and all you cedars” should praise God. (Ps. 148:7, 9) We ourselves were created with the tendency to appreciate their strength. So reflecting on these marvels of creation should make us even more thankful for the wisdom of their great Creator.