extraordinary flora

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Kochia Hill - Hitachinaka, Japan

The scrubby little kochia plants, otherwise known as summer cypress, are not much to look at for most of the year, but at the end of the wet season they take on an extraordinary brilliant red color, lending them the name “Burning bush.”

In Hitachinaka City at the Hitachi Seaside Park a vast stretch of rolling hills is jam-packed with the vivid crimson bushes that sway with the breeze, with whimsical Oz-like roads winding throughout. Outside of the park, kochia is more often gathered for the more mundane purpose of making brooms, but the park takes advantage of how spectacular it can be when planted in such abundance.

The park’s gentle slopes are full of flowering plants year round, often in enormous, monochromatic displays, and is also famous for its blue nemophilas, flowers with transparent blue petals.

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Wisteria Tunnel -

Yahatahigashi Ward, Japan Make sure to visit in late April or Early May, during the “Fuji Matsuri,” or “Wisteria Festival,” when the magical tunnel is in full bloom. Arrive at any other time of year, and its appearance will be a disheartening mass of lifeless, twisted branches A member of the pea family, wisteria is an ornamental vine, wildly popular in both Eastern and Western gardens for its graceful hanging flowers and its ornate, winding branches. Easily trained, the woody vines tend to reach maturity within a few years, at which point they bloom in cascades of long, lavender flowers of varying pastel shades. Explore further at Atlas Obscura
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The Tree of Knowledge - Qurna, Iraqi

An unusual shrine stands on the shore of the Tigris: a small, dead tree. Protected by low brick walls and surrounded by a concrete plaza, this tree is -according to local legend- is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the one that Eve ate from in the Garden of Eden

Visit Atlas Obscura for a little more of a look at this sacred spot…

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KOROWAI TREE HOUSES -KIA, INDONESIA

Known primarily for being one of the last active tribes of cannibals, the Korowai of Papua, in Indonesia, lived in total isolation until first contacted by Dutch missionaries in the 1970s. But while the tribal penchant for cannibalism was what got them the most press, the Korowai have another fascinating cultural trait: they are the fantastic architects of towering tree homes built as high as 114 feet above the ground!

Despite being fiercely isolationist in the last decade or so, members of the Korowai tribe have been leaving their isolated homelands and moving into nearby towns. With only about 3000-4000 tribe members in all, it is estimated that they may only have one more generation of traditional lifestyle left before becoming essentially integrated into the rest of the island society.

Learn more of the tribes fascinating traditions at Atlas Obscura

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OAK BEAMS, NEW COLLEGE OXFORD

Founded in 1379, New College, Oxford is one of the oldest Oxford colleges. It has, like other colleges, a great dining hall with huge oak beams across the top, as large as two feet square, and forty-five feet long each.

A century ago, some busy entomologist went up into the roof of the dining hall with a penknife and poked at the beams and found that they were full of beetles. This was reported to the College Council, which met the news with some dismay, beams this large were now very hard, if not impossible to come by. “Where would they get beams of that caliber?” they worried.

One of the Junior Fellows stuck his neck out and suggested that there might be some worthy oaks on the College lands. These colleges are endowed with pieces of land scattered across the country which are run by a college Forester. They called in the College Forester, who of course had not been near the college itself for some years, and asked him if there were any oaks for possible use.

He pulled his forelock and said, “Well sirs, we was wonderin’ when you’d be askin’.”

Upon further inquiry it was discovered that when the College was founded, a grove of oaks had been planted to replace the beams in the dining hall when they became beetly, because oak beams always become beetly in the end. This plan had been passed down from one Forester to the next for over five hundred years saying “You don’t cut them oaks. Them’s for the College Hall.”

For more details, and other fascinating histories, visit Atlas Obscura.

Floralis Generica -

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Designed and paid for by Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano, the Floralis Generica, a giant silver flower, has been a striking city landmark since it opened in 2002.

The enormous metal flower blooms anew each day in a pool of water next to the National Museum of Fine Arts, revealing four long stamens inside. Its six 13-meter-long petals open, which takes about 20 minutes, at eight in the morning and slowly close again at sunset, mimicking the actions of a real flower. When the petals are closed, the 18 ton flower is 75 feet tall and 52 feet wide, and when blossomed this amazing man-made flora is an incredible 105 feet wide.

To learn more about the night time habits of this man made marvel visit Atlas Obscura