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Spruce on a South Sea island: the loneliest tree in the world

The Sitka spruce is so lonely that it made it into the Guinness Book of Records. “It is believed that the most remote tree of all is a lone spruce on Campbell Island, whose closest colleague is probably over 222 kilometers away on the Auckland Islands,” the entry says.

The spruce stands on a deserted spot between New Zealand and the Antarctic, and to this day it remains a mystery to experts. Despite extensive research, no one knows how she got here, not even her age is known.

Planted by an earl?

But of course there are theories. One says that the Earl of Ranfurly, the 15th governor of New Zealand, planted the tree between 1901 and 1907. This is why the spruce is also called the “Ranfurly tree”.

Jonathan Palmer is apparently not convinced. The New South Wales University scientist says, “Given the speed at which the tree is growing, I don’t think it was planted that early.”

Palmer had made a special trip to Campbell Island to uncover the secrets of the tree. However, the core samples that were taken did not provide any definitive information about the age because they did not reach the core of the tree.

One thing is certain: “The Sitka spruce on Campbell Island is very far from home,” as the weather observer Mark Crompton explains. Because this type of spruce is actually native to North America, between Alaska and California. Crompton has participated in expeditions to the region and spent several years there.

In ideal conditions, Sitka spruces can reach heights of up to 100 meters. But this Sitka spruce is only ten meters high.

The sub-Antarctic island is not exactly known for its beautiful weather: it rains an average of 325 days per year with only about 600 hours of sunshine. “Total misery. There are always low clouds and it keeps drizzling, ”says Crompton.

Nevertheless, the tree is healthy – just small. “It’s squat and growing because the wind whips it all the time,” Crompton says.

In the photos it looks like the tree isn’t that lonely, because it is surrounded by plenty of green. However, the neighboring plants are shrubs, grasses, ferns and heather plants, but not trees.

The fact that the spruce never shines in its full splendor could also have something to do with the scientists who have been researching the local flora and fauna on Campbell Island for many years. A rumor has it that the researchers cut the tip every year to use it as a Christmas tree.

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