One look at any of these remarkable trees might make you say “Ouch!” in an instant. What is so threatening about them that we feel subjected to a fear of pain just by looking at them?
Image: Albert Huntington
Come no closer lest you be stung!
Image: dinesh valke
These trees are filled with bountiful spikes and thorns that surround the trunks like a huge army ready for battle, ready and waiting to strike at any time.
Image: Scott and Susan
These unusual trees come in many forms, such as as the Silk floss tree (Ceiba speciosa), the Kapok (Ceiba pentandra), the Cotton tree (Bombax ceiba), the lovingly nicknamed Spikey Palm, and the Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos), among others whose unique and prickly armour now earn them the nickname: Trees of Pain.
One might quietly ask, “Why are these trees so defensive? What ancient being had offended them so, that they asked Mother Nature to encase them with such stinging defense systems, capable of entering our deepest nightmares?”
Image: Dave and Iva Naffziger
Could the answer simply be: to protect the soft fluffy prize waiting at the top branches?
Some of these prickly trees actually produce cotton-like material used to stuff our pillows, mattresses, even our cute stuffed toys. Perhaps the phrase “no pain, no gain” is at work here, and to earn our restful sleep at night, we must first endure the thorny climb to the top (or the kapok gatherer will do that for us anyway, poor fella).
Image: Ken Katz
Or maybe, as in the case of the Honey locust, the prize is the sweet, edible pulp that has been used to make beer… Truly something worth all that pain, don’t you agree?
In any case, these prickles do not contain poison, and all that will be left with you after being so unfortunate as to get stung by one, two, fifty or a hundred of these spikes is a tiny wound multiplied by the number of thorns you got yourself pierced with in the first place.
So admire them from a distance, and resist the urge to touch.