Ancient Walking Rata Tree Recognized as New Zealand's Tree of the Year
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Ancient Walking Rata Tree Recognized as New Zealand's Tree of the Year

News  
06-07-2024
 

A 32-meter-tall northern rātā has been named New Zealand's Tree of the Year. Due to its external resemblance to the sentient, tree-like Ents from J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," it is known as the "walking tree."

The rātā, which appears to be wandering alone across a field, took gold in the "Tree of the Year" competition, held annually by the New Zealand Arboricultural Association. Growing near Karamea on the west coast of the South Island,the tree "captured the hearts and imaginations of New Zealanders with its unique appearance and fascinating life story," the association said. The rātā easily managed to outshine other well-known favorites, including the country's most photographed tree - a willow emerging from Lake Wanaka and becoming so recognizable that it has its own social media hashtag - #thatwanakatree.

The northern rātā is one of the tallest flowering trees in New Zealand. It begins its life as an epiphyte, attaching itself to another host tree. Eventually, its roots reach the ground, and it envelops the original host. This species can live for up to 1,000 years. It is not known exactly how old the walking tree is, but it has been known to exist since 1875, when all the land around the tree was cleared for farms, but the rātā was left untouched, and it remained standing alone in the middle of a huge field.

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