In the tropics there are walking trees that travel 20 meters per year.

If you have watched the film “The Lord of the Rings” at least once, you probably remember about the Ent people living in Middle-earth. They are trees with eyes and a mouth that are able to move along the ground with their strong legs. It would seem that these are just fantastic creatures that were invented by the writer John Tolkien. In fact, walking trees exist in reality, although they do not have eyes and are not able to talk. These amazing plants, whichare able to travel up to 20 meters per yearare native to South America. To look at them, tourists have to overcome a long journey with a lot of obstacles, but all these difficulties are worth it.

In the tropical forests there are palm trees that are able to walk with the help of their “legs”


  • 1 Walking trees in Ecuador
  • 2 How a walking palm tree moves
  • 3 The mystery of walking trees in the tropics
  • 4 Where walking trees grow

Walking trees in Ecuador

Palms of the species Socratea exorrhiza are called walking trees. They grow in the tropical forests of Central and South America, andthey are especially abundant in EcuadorThe height of these palm trees can reach 25 meters, and the diameter of the trunk is 16 centimeters. That is, these are tall, but at the same time thin trees with wide branches with many leaves.

Walking trees in Ecuador. Forest with walking palm trees. Photo source: Photo.

Forest with walking palm trees. Photo source:

The most unusual part of the Socratea exorrhiza palm is its roots. They are open, so the tree seems to stand on many legs. The roots dig into the ground at a slight angle, so they form something similar to a hut.

Walking trees in Ecuador. Roots of walking trees. Photo source: Photo.

Roots of walking trees. Photo source:

Read also:Look at what trees looked like 350 million years ago – they will surprise you

How a walking palm tree moves


It is thanks to these legs that walking trees move along the ground, and very quickly. In one day, a palm tree can cover about 3-4 centimeters, which is a very long distance for a plant – there are probably no more trees in the world that could boast of such a feature. In just a few months, a palm tree can move several meters from its original location, so the tropical forests with these trees are constantly changing. And it’s probably very easy to get lost in them without a compass.

How a walking palm tree moves. The roots of walking trees look like a hut. Image source: Photo.

The roots of walking trees look like a hut. Image source:

Palm trees move on the ground very simply, they don’t even need to move their roots. The roots of the tree are located in a circle, and some shoots eventually rot and separate from the trunk. Instead, new ones grow next to them or on the opposite side – the whole tree moves according to the position of the roots. Observations show that this process occurs every day, that is, tropical palm trees are constantly in motion.

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The mystery of walking trees in the tropics

What are these trees “running” from? Despite the fact that scientists have known about the existence of walking palm trees for more than 100 years, the reason for their constant movement is still unknown to science. But there are several interesting assumptions.

In 1961, it was proposed that the ability to move on the ground allows palms to survive in the wetlands of tropical forests. When one place becomes too wet, they move to a drier place to avoid drowning. This must have happened over thousands of years, during which time the trees learned to move as quickly as possible without any “thinking.” The version sounds plausible, but scientists have still not been able to find proof of this.

The mystery of walking trees in the tropics. Walking palm trees are trying to survive in swampy areas. Photo source: Photo.

Walking palm trees try to survive in swampy areas. Photo source:

In 1980, researchers suggested that trees use their roots to straighten themselves when they fall. Let’s say that if a neighboring tree falls on a palm tree, it grows straight roots and gets back on its feet, while the old roots rot. This version also sounds interesting, but there is no scientific evidence for this either.

Finally, there is a hypothesis that trees are constantly moving in search of fertile soil. When the soil where the palm grows becomes depleted, the smart plant moves away to find a new source of nutrients. Old roots remain on the “dead” soil, and new ones are drawn to the “living” soil. Again, there is no convincing evidence for this.

Read also:The oldest tree on Earth has been discovered – it has been growing for more than 5,000 years

Where walking trees grow

The forest with walking trees is a very popular place among tourists. To get there, you need to fly to Ecuador and then drive. After this, tourists sail for several hours by boat, and at the end of the route they walk. The final point of the journey is the Sumaco Nature Reserve, where amazing trees grow.

Where walking trees grow. Walking trees are very popular among tourists. Photo source: Photo.

Walking trees are very popular among tourists. Photo source:

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If we couldn’t surprise you with walking trees, read our material about a tree that sucks juice from neighboring trees. Surprisingly, there are vampires among plants too!