Japanese Pine Tree, Sole Survivor of the Tsunami

In Japan, a tree, the sole survivor of a once 70,000 strong tree population in the Takata Matsubara forest, has become a symbol of support for the locals who have named it, “kiseki no ippon matsu” (the miraculous lone pine tree).

With a death toll of over 20,000 and widespread coastal destruction, Japan still has environmental and societal issues to tackle, yet the Japanese have not turned their back on their natural history. The lone tree, estimated to be about 270 to 280 years old, is all that is left of a forest planted over two hundred years ago. Fears that the lone pine tree will not survive due to saliently in the groundwater (erosion from the tsunami has moved the beach to just 10 meters away) has sparked a popular and successful plant grafting program.

Four sprigs, which are expected to become seedlings, will be the beginnings of a new forest to replace the one lost under the surging waters. Those four branches have been grafted to 100 red and black pine rootstocks which will preserve the genetic material of the original tree. The tree has become a national symbol of tenacity for the Japanese people in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and resulting tsunami. These “new” seedlings will now be the vehicle of rebirth for the forest they once inhabited.

Main photo credit: mrhayata / Flickr