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Living (root) wood bridges

 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Apparently rubber tree roots can be used to bridge streams.

Takes about ten years to become usable, according to the article:

http://rootbridges.blogspot.com/


Very pretty pictures.
 
paul wheaton
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That has to be one of the most awesome things I have ever seen.

Thanks for posting that!

 
Jeremy Bunag
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That is just...awesome.  How cool is that?  A bridge that gets stronger as time goes on!  Plus, how can you not appreciate the beauty of it?

Thanks for the link!
 
rose macaskie
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Incedible, pure walt disney,
    Our trees are so dulll in the west at least in the north of europe, i heard on one documentary that in england they cut down a lot of old trees in th ewar and they brought wood from spain to in the war for ships i suppose. North america though has some awsome bits of wood herself that does not come out much in films, like swamp cypresses and redwoods, i love the redwood in "the hulk" but don't know if it was real, it just changed the scale of the whole world. I wish you would show them more, when the modern world is boring everyone wants to be boring they copy you so show them the most savage you h ave got to better their goals abit or make them more like what i want to see. Good trees in Forest Gump to and there is the wonderfull droppy moss you have in some bits and incredible fall maples. agri rose macaskie.
 
Erica Wisner
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polyparadigm wrote:
Apparently rubber tree roots can be used to bridge streams.

Takes about ten years to become usable, according to the article:

http://rootbridges.blogspot.com/

Very pretty pictures.


Wow.
I wonder if any of our rainforests are damp enough to allow a root to quest its way through a log channel across a stream.  It would have to be a pretty optimistic root. 
What's the closest tree we've got to rubber? 
Mangrove, maybe, for hotter areas;
for damp northern areas, maybe a Willow or cedar?

We get log bridges from time to time when trees fall.  Has anyone ever seen a living tree bridge locally?

I'm reading a novel from the 1920's in which the weekend party reaches the English estate by an elegant stone footbridge, or by driving their motorcars across a shallow ford in the stream. 
So alien to my everyday experience, that cars would be given the second-class crossing... yet there's a definite appeal.

-Erica
 
rose macaskie
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i have been through a ford aren't they called splashes, in the Depth of Devon. It was fun but it was the publick road way, it was not the drive to a smart house. In Devon everything was considered  very far from civilisation. The roads were so narrow you had to back to the nearest wide spot if you saw a car. that was the polite thing to do, if you weren't polite the other person backed.

      I don't think we know what roots can do, we keep everything so orderly cutting and snipping things that should not be there. i remember one wood in England i liked it was not so tidy as other woods there was one tree whose branch stretched right acros a river and was covered in moss and there was moss and ferns and ivy everywhere it was mysteriouse and beautifull but most woods were well kept and no more mysterioues than any other palce, it also had an old iron smelting works so there were ivy and fern clad tunnels and wells.
      We call trees old the minute they are mature, old trees have such enormously wide trunks i have seen an olive like that here that really they are different from young ones. We cut off horizontal branches if they grow too long, they might fall on out heads we don't really know trees, we only know severely restricted trees.
      A poplars quick growing so it would be easier to experiment with. Do you think people dug up roots growing along the river bank to pull them out across the river to make a bridge with. Birds often use roots instead of twigs for their nests they are much more flexible than twigs, hence your budgerigars hanging and pulling on strings they pulled roots out of the ground instead of picking up dry sticks.
  it seems to me that the plants that live for longest without roots,your brazil stick are jungle ones, why should leaves learn to absorb humidity from the air best were there is no lack of rainfall, maybe they just get good at things were it is easiest to do,  not were its mot necesary, ihumidity is so availiable in th etropics that why not just take it up through your leaves. So these roots just go for long above ground walks in a humid climate because it is easier for them not because it is necessary to go far to find water.  agri rose macaskie. 

 
 
rose macaskie
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Paul Wheaton they don't think your stupid they just like de-railing trains, cars and whatever, at least they probably think you are stupid, not because your ideas are stupid, but because you let them deflect from the issues or trample on them.  Lots of people like rough and tumble but their won't be any tumble if you aren't really good at the rough, they don't like softies or they do but that does not mean they wont rip you to pieces or that the tumble wont  tumble be really rough for you and smooth for them because you aren't giving out any punches. agri rose macaskie.
 
paul wheaton
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I wonder if willows would be able to do anything like this?

I think the bullocks once had a living willow bridge that didn't last too long because (if memory serves) rambunctious teenagers ... uh .... tested its durability and discovered it had not yet built enough durability to withstand their tests.

As for me being stupid:  probably best for the "meaningless drivel"  forum.   The bottom line is that my ... um .... "style" .... makes most people .... less than charmed.  Hence, my endorsing anything would have very little appeal to the masses.  In fact, my endorsing something might hamper sales.   Besides, if a magazine wants an endorsement, I would think they would prefer an endorsement from celebrities like Sepp, Toby or Skeeter.

 
rose macaskie
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  In the above, my last posting, i mentioned the importance of speed in bettering soils, because of global warming, rapant desertification and hunger, and i forgot cancer.

        In a cotton producing part of india they have used so much pestricides and herbicides, maybe as they aren't producing a food crop they go really wild with the chemicals, that the babies are born with skin cancer. The canceriginouse substances get into the water and float in the air. Using poisons is uneccesasry and dangerouse. the ball has rolled from thinking pesticides might be good in the case of threat from a real plaugue of locusts to using htem all the time. We have gone on to using them all the time for everything, for example jsut in case, though we know they are poisonouse. Pesticides used to help woods can get into the fungi everyone has always eaten in that district, that suddenly become poisonouse. and affect local small time farmers. i have an article on it. i shall look for it later and post its google address.

  We don't use as much pesticides and herbicides as they use in the cotton producing area of India but maybe we use enough to get older children more exposed to things that give them cancer and youngish grown ups too.

  The farmers where always seen as healthy and good maybe it is time they are seen in the same way as smolke belching factory owners are.

  A ship full of chemical pesticide or herbicides grounded of the coast of england a few years ago and everyone was worried that its cargo would go into the sea. How many shiploads of these products does England import and they must all end up in the sea or a good deal of their contents must. How unreal can you get worrying if its one ship and not worrying about many. agri rose macaskie.
 
paul wheaton
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rose macaskie wrote:
instead of picking the fruit that hang low you are trying to convince enemies of its worth  [...]
  You don't tell much but if you did everyone else might shut up. you just start things off. 


I don't know if "enemies" is the right word, but I understand what you are trying to say. 

And, yes, you seem to understand what I am attempting to do VERY well! 

who is Toby or skeeter.


Toby Hemenway - the author of Gaia's Garden - probably the best book on permaculture right now.

Skeeter - Michael Pilarski:  My PDC instructor and a wonderful man.  I hope to upload some youtube videos with him soon.

 
Fred Morgan
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Just saw this and it gave me an idea. We have strangler figs here, You want to talk roots? We got em. A strangler fig starts off as a vine 100+ feet in the air. It then sends down roots, 100 feet. When it contacts the soil, it starts to thicking. As more and more are started in the canopy (birds love the figs, and poop in the canopy), eventually it surrounds the trunk and strangles it.

VERY hard wood.

This should be very easy to do with strangler fig vines, and so cool too.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Fred Morgan wrote:This should be very easy to do with strangler fig vines, and so cool too.


Yes, that sounds like an absolutely perfect species.

I would consider trying to insoculate the dangling roots with vines below to form a truss, to make it usable sooner.
 
Fred Morgan
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Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
Yes, that sounds like an absolutely perfect species.

I would consider trying to insoculate the dangling roots with vines below to form a truss, to make it usable sooner.


Sometimes, a tree will fall that is covered with them. If so, we should be able to take them and move them into position and weave them into a starting form. It might only be two years or so before someone could walk across, especially since the stangler will merge the vines when they touch. In this way, we could create a suspension bridge if need be.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Fred Morgan wrote:
the stangler will merge the vines when they touch.


Oh, sorry to use so much jargon.  That's exactly what I meant by "inosculate"...glad to see we're thinking the same thing!
 
                    
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pacific northwest, say portland north, wet side of the cascades...

im 'guessing' on all of these based on observations Ive made in my own damp (62" a year) PNW home in Pidgeon Springs ,SW Washington. look it up on google maps. Ive got fairly loose andisols  (a spanaway clay loam I think) which are on slide prone slopes up to 50% grade, averaging about 20-25%, on a southern aspect. basically, the stuff gets up and walks downslope now and then. so ive seen alot of trees topple over the years- I even named my aikido school after one, the Brooked Branch Dojo

haveing seen some trees fall with ball intact and have survived, here are some conjectures:

western red cedar will grow to our best footbridge, but it'll takes a few dozen years, longer in the shade.

cottonwood in 15 and alder in 25; ive seen plenty of these topple and live through landslides; using Sepp's methods of terracing and with an engineered intact root system drop of either species over a small gap (15 feet) they could both work well.

willow in 8-10year- over 15 feet if you grow it in a pollard and drop it, then bundle the pollard with a rope and cut the next years growth. im actually coppicing and pollarding actively now. now im curious to see if I can design a seral sequence to form a living cantilevered deck system....
 
                    
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Yup, most beautiful thing I've seen today!  Thanks for posting.

Two old timers around here separately told me about an "H" oak that was near my land.  Two oak trees next to each other had two limbs wrapped around each other when they were young, and this eventually grew into a huge old tree in the shape of an H, it's been cut down now.  I want to do something similar, I bet it could be a bridge if done right.  With an ash or alder maybe you could choose lower branches to entwine?  In the early years floods could come along and really ruin things, but I guess that's a risk with any bridge.  I bet those root bridges are highly flood resistant, or maybe in a place where it doesn't flood that often or high. 
 
                    
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Wow amazingly cool, I wonder if that sort of thing can be done with any of the trees around here?

Anyone have pictures of similar stuff in other parts of the world?



Here is the repost of the link:
http://rootbridges.blogspot.com/
 
Brenda Groth
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that is one of the most amazing and beautiful things i have ever seen..too bad they wouldn't be hardy here..
 
T. Pierce
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yes i was thinking of willow tree also.  they grow extremely well and get huge when living beside a creek or river.  which makes it perfect cause you need a bridge.  my willows are just in my yard  and they have massive root systems.  that spread out quite far.  i can see possibly manipulating willow roots which get exposed on creek sides to do what this has done.  how strong it would be would be another question though.
 
Brenda Groth
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hmmmmmm willow? sounds like that might work
 
Jack Shawburn
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How long did that take to grow?
Those must be Banyan trees..?
 
Suzy Bean
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Here is another pic of it:
from another site. Here is the site: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2035520/Meghalaya-villagers-create-living-bridges-training-roots-river.html
 
paul wheaton
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Leila Rich
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The treehouse thread reminded me of other human/plant/structure interactions like these living bridges.
Biomorphic's not the word, but I'm sure there is one...
 
paul wheaton
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David Hartley
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WOW?!... Just... WOW!!!
 
Marc Troyka
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David Hartley wrote:WOW?!... Just... WOW!!!


I second that motion. I want to build one of those, or several. We needa figure out how that's done.
 
leila hamaya
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yay! i love this idea.
and yeah seen these pics of these kinds of bridges elsewhere..and people are doing more experimenting with arbor sculptures and using living trees for walls and buildings. this idea seems to be catching on....

i've been kinda obsessed with this idea since i started thinking about it. really want to build some things in this way, eventually. but i better get started soon, as its probably a fifteen year + project to get even a small structure really going well.

i've been visioning this partially underground/earth bermed living tree structure for a while. its the someday idea for (so slowly) growing a cabin =)
if you continued to plant thickly outwards from your structure and put a living roof on it, the structure would be invisible once it grew in properly.

thats the way the idea came to me- to go underground for a lot of the structures living space, then use the trees to top it off. possible a bowl shape dug into the ground, then the trees wouldnt have to grow as high to completely cover over it. also visioning using some metal, kinda like a huge bonsai project (they use thick copper wires for that), or some kind of added support to train the trees and plants into shape.

when i first thought of it, i didnt know other people were also on this wave, and that in the past this was done a lot...though more like fences, pleaching trees for walls, like a living wattle. so have been learning about pleaching, layering, coppicing etc. you could , in the end once it grea in and would start growing outward, even uproot the inner most layers (?or not) and put some earthen plaster on it?

and yeah ficus, almost any variety would be a good one, willow, of course. bamboo could probably be used, with some kind of containment for the roots.
also plum and hazel. i have seen some plum and hazel walls at a community that were very cool, that were bordering a kind of roofed open structure with out any actual walls.

one could make a bunch of small free standing "walls" with these kinds of trees, plant other climbers and support plants on the bottom...for a similar effect for like a patio area.

some more pics and info:
http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2009/09/living-growing-architecture.html


http://www.arborsculpture.blogspot.com/
 
Marc Troyka
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Apparently the Japanese have used wisteria vines for making living "rope" bridges. You could use them for reinforcing a root-structure or tree-wall, and if you don't want to use wisteria (invasive) you could probably also use muscadine vines. Muscadine vines get pretty hefty as well. I'll have to look into this tree-wall thing, I've seen some tree sculpture art, but never walls or a building o.0.
 
Todd Parr
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I don't know if the roots would work, but you could easily do this with hybrid willow trees and their branches. People sculpt them into many things, including living fences.
 
Shawn Harper
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Maybe English ivy could work for this?
 
Marc Troyka
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English ivy is very invasive, and birds spread the seeds everywhere. It also tears down trees like kudzu, although it doesn't grow nearly as fast. Wisteria is also pretty bad in that respect.
 
Shawn Harper
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M Troyka wrote:English ivy is very invasive, and birds spread the seeds everywhere. It also tears down trees like kudzu, although it doesn't grow nearly as fast. Wisteria is also pretty bad in that respect.
so it's an aggressive volunteer. That sounds like a plus in this regard. Also if it's the the area anyways may as well put it to good use.
 
Marc Troyka
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Hrm, well if you're already infested with it I don't see the harm. On the other hand, ivy doesn't make thick vines like wisteria or muscadines do, so it wouldn't make a very good bridge.

Apparently willows will grow roots that are thicker than the tree trunk, which makes them well suited for making bridges. Willows are also good for making fences and things, and apparently you can even use honey locust which is livestock friendly. YMMV, but living fences are still very cool, and pretty easy to make.

On the other hand, I think "growing a house" would be extremely impractical. Living trees make poor houses, take forever to establish and train, and make it harder rather than easier to apply building materials later. They can also tear your construction apart (or crush it) as they continue to grow.
 
Leila Rich
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I was reminded of these amazing bridges, and thought I'd bump the thread
 
paul wheaton
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allen lumley
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_ I am nominating the Lowly Yellow Birch as a possible candidate. In its own territory it will often Germinate tack root and grow on top
of an old rotten stump. Often when an area has been logged over the yellow birch is an early volunteer plant !

It is common to find clumps of Yellow birches where the original stump has long long rotted away- the Yellow Birches roots has had time
to grow down into the soil and Support the resulting quite mature trees !

Walking into this stand of trees creates a mental image of these trees being caught in mid effort to Rip their roots out of the ground and
go for a walk-about! Like a standoff Ents of looking for their Ent-wifes !

Link Below :

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/forestry/iowa_trees/tree_id_photos/BIRCH_YELLOW_form.jpg


For the good of the Crafts ! Big AL
 
michael Egan
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What about grapevines? They are native here in the Midwest, very prolific, very strong, expert climbers and grow fast.
 
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