The love trees of St. Augustine
Everyone has heard that opposites attract. Maybe that’s why we can’t help but smile when we see photos of unusual pairings on greetings cards and calendars like a kitten snuggling up with a golden retriever or a chimpanzee cradling a leopard cub. These unconventional couplings sometimes occur in the animal world, but what about the plant world?
It turns out that unusual pairings do happen among trees in Augustine, Florida. Love Trees, as they’re known, occur when two trees of different species end up growing around, through, and even within each other. While St. Augustine isn’t the only place in Florida that love trees occur, there are a lot of them in that particular city, which makes them a great draw for tourists.
The most common love tree in St. Augustine is between an oak tree and palm tree. The union begins when a seed from the palm tree falls into the wide crux between oak tree branches and starts to grow there. Because Florida’s climate is so humid, the palm tree can often get enough water through the bark of the oak tree on which it’s living, so soil isn’t necessary. The trees’ different root structures also support this symbiotic process. The palm tree’s roots are small and short, so they can easily get moisture from shallow surfaces like the oak’s bark. At the same time, the oak tree’s roots run very deep, so it can supply all the proper water and nutrients to the palm tree.
The legend of the love tree is that two young lovers planted different trees of their own, one an oak and the other a palm. Eventually, those two trees intertwined, and the couple’s love lasted forever. Today the belief is that if a couple kisses underneath a love tree, their love will be everlasting, too.
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