Li Jiawan Grand Ginkgo King – Longnan, China - Atlas Obscura

Li Jiawan Grand Ginkgo King

Longnan, China

The world's largest ginkgo tree contains a hollow so large a man once lived in it for two years. 


Jutting out of a low plain in a rural Chinese valley is the ancient tree known as “Li Jiawan Grand Ginkgo King.” the world’s largest ginkgo tree, and while there are a number of legends surrounding the ancient plant, possibly the most amazing is that a man once lived inside of it for a couple years.

Dating back as far as over 4,000 years according to some estimates, the massive ginkgo actually looks like it might be a cluster of trees. Over the years the main plant has apparently grown a number of trunks in response to damage and age, although they are all of the same plant. The top of the tree reaches up to almost 100 feet in the air supported by a combined trunk that measures over 50 feet around. Possibly the most stunning feature of the tree however is the massive, hollow center which measures over 10 square meters, essentially creating a little, naturally occurring house. Which did not go unnoticed by one cattle farmer in the 1970’s who took up residence in the tree home for two full years.

Given the amount of time the tree has stood in its verdant valley home, it is unsurprising that a number of folktales have sprung up around it like little saplings of legend. One tale says that the tree grew from the grave of a scholar who was wrongfully killed by a corrupt government. Another of the legends tells it the opposite way in that the tree became a scholar and went on to win a scholarly contest before reverting to a tree, vexing the local king. Either way, it is clear that the tree is regarded as a symbol of wisdom.

While the tree still lives, despite its broken and cragged look, it is unfortunately likely that the massive arbor will become dead and dormant within the next century. However when this happens, both scientists and loremasters will likely find another biggest, wisest, and homiest tree.         

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