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  • Irene Zavro

    15 of the World’s Most Exotic & Amazing Trees | WebEcoist

  • Ft Rg

    Axel Erlandson's Circus Trees. He died never sharing his secret of creating these fanciful trees.

  • Leslie Schmidt

    Trees of Mystery, part of Lost World, Scott's Valley CA maybe one day I will see these tress...I plan on doing lots of traveling in the US with my kids!!! Gotta keep the road tripping traveling alive and well!!!

  • Bruce Davis

    Axel Erlandson was an American ‘arborsculptor’ who planted trees in specified patterns and pruned, bent and grafted them into shapes not seen in nature. He opened a horticultural attraction in 1947 near Santa Cruz, California named “The Tree Circus”, and people flocked in from all over the country to view his unusual and striking creations.

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The Dragon Tree at Icod de los Vinos in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, is quite an unusual specimen. It has been said to be between 650 and 1,500 years old, though experts can’t say for sure since it doesn’t have a single trunk, but rather many small trunks that cling together as they grow upward.

Silk Cotton Trees of the Temple of Ta Prohm, Angkor , Cambodia - this was the setting for some of the scenes in the "Tomb Raider" movie.

Axel Erlandson underneath one of his arborsculpture (Image credit: Wilma Erlandson, Cabinet Magazine) Erlandson was very secretive and refused to reveal his methods on how to grow the Circus Trees (he even carried out his graftings behind screens to protect against spies!) and carried the secrets to his grave.

Two legged Circus Tree. Alex Erlandson was very secretive and refused to reveal his methods on how to grow the Circus Trees (he even carried out his graftings behind screens to protect against spies!) and carried the secrets to his grave. The trees were later bought by millionaire Michael Bonfante, who transplanted them to his amusement park Bonfante Gardens in Gilroy in 1985.

This is a tunnel of 1,000 year old yew trees in England. The peaceful beauty of ancient nature is a great thing. Now, if only I had 1,000 years to grow a path like this for my driveway...

axel erlandson's tree circus I saw a tree like this at Gilroy Gardens

Axel Erlandson (December 15, 1884 – April 28, 1964) was a Swedish American farmer who shaped trees as a hobby, and opened a horticultural attraction in 1947 advertised as "See the World's Strangest Trees Here," and named "The Tree Circus." The trees appeared in the column of Robert Ripley's Believe It or Not! twelve times. Erlandson sold his attraction shortly before his death. The trees were moved to Gilroy Gardens in 1985.

One of Axel Erlandson's "Circus Trees". (Pictured with Axel's wife Wima)

A farmer in California, Erlandson had noticed the curious ability of trees to naturally graft themselves together. So, in 1925 Erlandson began planning a series of trees that were deliberately grafted together for artistic effect. His first creation was the "Four Legged Giant," four trees which he merged into a single truck, creating a kind of tree-gazebo.

Axel Erlandson tree circus, tree grafting

A sculpted tree by Axel Erlandson. Sculpting trees is also known as Arborsculpture. Visitors come from all over the world to see his horticulture attraction in Santa Cruz, California.