It’s the age-old tale of “opposites attract.” When different species of animals become best friends, like a dachshund and lion, their friendship goes viral. But, aside from these unlikely furry pals, is it possible for plants to get wrapped up in each other?
Believe It or Not!, trees of entirely different species literally get wrapped up together, growing intertwined with, or even through, another tree. In St. Augustine, Florida, love isn’t just in the air; it’s in the trees, too!
Nicknamed the “love trees,” these botanical soulmates have grown from a pretty natural foundation.
Valerie Trouet, an Associate Professor of Dendrochronology at the University of Arizona, and author of Tree Story: A History of the World Written in Rings, says that the most common union is between an oak and a palm tree. The seeds of palms “fall in between the crevices of these horizontal branches of oak trees and start growing,” she says. Talk about an organic relationship!
This palm and oak tree bond has been watered by the humid climate in Florida. Trouet explains that in Florida’s moist climate, some palms can soak up enough moisture within the bark of another tree to grow from it; no soil required!
The differing root systems of these trees aids in the process. Palms have very shallow roots, so they “take water from close to the surface, whereas oak trees are the other way around. They have deep roots that stabilize that hefty trunk,” Trouet says, “so they access different areas of the soil that allows them to grow in the exact same spot.”
St. Augustine boasts a number of love trees, though they do grow in other parts of Florida. Just like great loves, “Not all love trees originate the same way,” Trouet says.
Legendary Lip Lock
With their inseparable branches, these trees have sprouted some local lore.
Agustina’s Love Tree Café and Boutique in St. Augustine, owned by Margaret and Frankie Espinal, is home to the Historic District’s most famous love tree. “The legend of the love tree is that two lovers each planted their own tree,” says Margaret, “one was a palm and one was an oak. Eventually, the two trees fused together. You will see the palm tree growing directly through the oak tree.”
People from all over the world come to share their love under the foliage. “They say that if you have a kiss under the tree, you will have everlasting love,” Margaret says.
“We’ve only been open two weeks here and I have probably seen 30 proposals.”
No matter how a love tree pair grows, there’s no doubt that they are a symbol for romance. You never know how it’s going to blossom, and you may not want to untangle yourself when it does.
By Liz Langley, contributor for Ripleys.com