Trees, the original skyscrapers, have been our guides since before we were human. They stand tall as landmarks that helped map our world, provide shelter from sun, rain, and predators, and offer food and other materials. These overachieving plants have been instrumental in our success as a species. In return, yes, we’ve chopped down or torched a lot of them, and carved up many more. But around the world there are trees that have withstood our folly and foibles for centuries, and continue to bear witness to the human story—good and bad.
These trees are some of our favorites. They have overseen the signing of treaties, heard whispered declarations of love, and even been worshipped as gods. Do we deserve trees? Probably not. Do they deserve our awe and respect? Most definitely.