As the most majestic members of the plant kingdom, trees loom large in human history, culture and psychology. They also can be quite frightening, whether standing proudly alone or massed limb to limb in damp, gloomy forests. The 30 scary, creepy & bizarre trees presented here show nature’s other, darker side… and you’d better hope their bark is worse than their bite!
A Face Only A Mother Woodpecker Could Love
“If you go down in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise…” and a Teddy Bear’s Picnic would be more than welcome after coming face to face with any one of these trees. Though merely the products of natural growth and decay or action by birds and animals, these distressingly anthropomorphic trees look much more sinister than that.
This spooky screaming tree (above, left) found guarding a trail in Hither Hills State Park near Montauk, New York, is unamused by your shenanigans… or anything else, it seems.
(image via: Digital Photography School)
It appears the weatherbeaten old woodsman above suddenly popped into the picture like the photobomb squirrel. Of course, the tree hasn’t “popped” anywhere all through its long existence beside a road in rural Ontario, Canada.
It’s Alive… And Hungry!
(images via: S Kessler)
Trees have the uncanny ability to “absorb” most any solid object that they may come in contact with. How long would it take for a tree to grow around a tombstone like the one above, found in a Quebec, Canada, graveyard has done? Figure on the better part of 200 years if one takes the early 19th century dates on this and other nearby gravestones into consideration.
(image via: Oddee)
The bamboo or banyan tree above appears to be protectively safeguarding a stone head of Buddha. The head formerly graced a temple in the cosmopolitan Thai city of Ayutthaya but was shifted to its current location in 1767, when the city was attacked and nearly completely destroyed by an invading Burmese army.
Where Is Your God Now?
(image via: IMAC Education)
In this Tree vs Temple cage match, the winner is obvious – and having a name like Strangler Fig doesn’t hurt the Arboreal Avenger’s cause one bit. Many of these trees above are over 400 years old while the temple complex at Angkor Wat in Cambodia is over 1,000 years old. The trees continue to grow while the temple… not so much.
(images via: IMAC Education)
The spooky doorway above might look familiar to moviegoers as it was featured in one of the Lara Croft movies.
Twisted Trunks, Blanched Branches
Sometimes trees don’t need any supporting context to look scary, they do just fine all by themselves. he examples above owe their contorted, some might even say tortured appearance to a combination of age, weather and disease. Nothing evil or satanic here… hey, where did everyone go?
(image via: Magic Surf Bus)
The gnarled and gnarly specimen above lords over all and sundry in the Vale Royal Woods, Northwich, England – a frightening location if there ever was. If there’s a North Witch in Northwich, this is probably where she hangs out.
Maybe some of our unease in the presence of scary trees lies not in history as a whole, but in one’s personal journey from child to adult – a journey fraught with thrills and chills more often than not Made In Hollywood. Take that childhood favorite, The Wizard Of Oz… and the frightening forest of angry apple trees.
(image via: CoverUps)
If you tell your kids “we’re going apple picking!” one bright, clear autumn day and they look away fearfully, now you know why.
It’s quite a jump from 1939′s special effects to 1982, the year the movie Poltergeist grabbed pop culture with a dead man’s grip… sort of like the way the Evil Tree in the Freeling’s backyard gripped young Robbie.
Well, it was better than being stuck in the bedroom with the Evil Clown, amiright?
Sleepy Hollow’s “Tree Of The Dead”
As creepy as the apple trees from The Wizard Of Oz were, they don’t hold a candle to the strikingly scary Tree Of The Dead from Tim Burton’s inspired take on Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleep Hollow”, written in 1819. In Burton’s 1999 redux simply titled Sleepy Hollow, Johnny Depp plays Ichabod Crane, a naive yet dedicated police constable sent from New York to solve a spate of grisly murders in the small upstate village of Sleepy Hollow. Solve them he does, though not without a near-fatal encounter with the Tree Of The Dead.
(image via: Cheezburger.com)
Even without the Headless Horseman (played by the inimitable Christopher Walken) or his gruesome hoard of disembodied heads, the Tree Of The Dead evokes shock and horror on a number of levels. And no, this is one case where NO more cowbell is required. Oddly enough (or maybe not, if you know Tim Burton’s style), a very similar scary tree makes an appearance in Burton’s remake of Alice In Wonderland.
(image via: Paludario)
Even Tim Burton would stand in awe before the time-blasted tree above… though not too close, just in case. Bleached by scabrous moonlight and bent by decades of shrieking, frigid mountain winds, the ancient juniper above struggles to live on – perhaps in hopes of gaining some revenge.
Little Photoshop of Horrors
(images via: Paludario)
The photoartist Paludario has a gift for twisting visual reality ever so slightly, just enough to scare the willies out of us!
(image via: Paludario)
Looking like some gigantic robot crayfish from Hell, the above symmetrical rendering brings out a truly monstrous side to what originally appeared to be merely and old tree that had lost its leaves… aha, but that’s just what it WANTED you to think!
Who Was That Masked Mangrove?
You say your neatly manicured, lushly landscaped, archetypical suburban front yard needs a little scarification? Tree Faces are a cool way to, uh, put a face on your tree – or trees, if you’ve got more than one. If you’ve ever worked a Mr. Potato Head, then Tree Faces are a cinch. Just make sure the tree you’re working on doesn’t already HAVE a face… talk about awkward.
(image via: The Fun Times Guide)
Most of the DIY scary tree faces you tend to see around Halloween time are of the Disney-scary variety – that is, somewhat frightening but mainly family friendly. The tree face above bends the rule just a little, though, because some folks like a little Capital H Horror with their horror.
(image via: Zuza Fun)
Whether you did or did not enjoy watching these freaky trees, at least some comfort can be taken in the fact that they can’t watch you back. Don’t, er, quote me on that.