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  • Writer's pictureJill

Our Candelabra Tree

Once in a while you come across something in nature that is so extraordinary, that you just have to stop and stare, and then want to share. Did you see this? Can you believe it? How did that happen? How is that possible?

Let me share something exactly like this with you – a Candelabra Tree, here in the Sequoia National Forest. On the west side of the Mineral King Canyon on the Eagle Lake trail, to the left after the bridge over Tufa Falls, is a Candelabra Tree. Take a close look at the picture above.

This conifer has survived over hundreds of years, evolving in a way to maximize its sunshine, making sure that it can catch as many rays as possible, for each of the separate trunks, but also for the good of the whole, so that it can survive and thrive with the resources available to it.

If you look closely, you can see that about 50 feet above the ground, jutting out from the main trunk is a horizontal limb, perpendicular to the vertical tree trunk. This limb, however, is more than a limb. It’s really another trunk. It has developed the strength to support five other vertical trunks that reach to the sky in the same way that other “normal” single trunk trees do. And that’s how it has acquired its name.

It looks like a candelabra

– one large substantive vertical stem, off of which a large perpendicular support rests, upon which several vertical supports rise to hold candles – for fancy tables, or on the piano of Liberace! The comparison to a candelabra is an appropriate one – because it does look exactly like its name sake.

But how did this happen?

Trauma. Maybe lightning. Maybe another tree fell upon this pine and the vertical trunk was amputated, and needed to find a way to continue on in order to survive. It needed a way to find the sun.

Whatever the case, this tree is a survivor. And in fact, the name candelabra tree is not unique to this particular tree – it’s a generic name for trees that use their survival instinct to produce multiple vertical leaders after a cataclysmic life event. Nature is rife with examples of survivors like this.

We are survivors like this. I am. You are. Bad things happen. But we continue to seek the sun. We move on after the unthinkable. We are resilient.

And I take great comfort in that.


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