10 Ugly trees

So here you are, roaming the internet, looking for some of the ugliest trees around the world… Don’t worry, I’m a little weird like that too. Whether the tree is a health hazard, environmentally harmful, or just downright ugly, this list contains trees that many around the world consider the worst trees one can possibly set their eyes upon:

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Table of Contents

Ugly trees

So really, beauty (or lack of it) is in the eye of the beholder so some of the trees I write about below may not invoke much of a reaction. However, I’ve chosen these trees from a mixture of popular opinion on the internet and my own thoughts, so let’s have a look:

  • Sandbox Tree (Hura Crepitans)
  • Cottonwood trees
  • Pine trees
  • Black walnut trees
  • Chinese tallow tree
  • Tree Tumbo
  • Manchineel Tree
  • Boab prison tree
  • Sunland Boab tree
  • Crooked Forest of Gryfino

1. Sandbox Tree (Hura Crepitans)

Found in South America, this tree can grow up to 30m tall and has a diameter of 1.5m. The trunk is covered in large spines and the leaves are filled with poisonous sap. The fruit of the tree is explosive, releasing seeds at a rate of 35m/s.

What Is a Sandbox Tree?

The sandbox tree (Hura crepitans) is a member of the spurge family. Male and female flowers are distinctively different. The pods containing the sandbox tree’s exploding seeds are created when the female blooms are fertilized.

Sandbox Tree Poison

All parts of the sandbox tree are poisonous. The milky sap found in the leaves and bark can cause skin irritation, blurred vision and blindness if it comes in contact with your eyes. If ingested, the sap can cause vomiting, convulsions and death.

sandbox tree

2. Cottonwood trees

Found in North America, these trees can grow up to 30m tall and have a diameter of 1.5-2m. The leaves are triangular and the tree produces large amounts of fluff (cotton) which is a nuisance for many people. The tree is also very weak and is known to fall over in high winds.

What are Cottonwood Trees?

Cotton trees are members of the Poplar family and were extremely important to Native Americans as they used all parts of the tree. They crafted boats from their trunks, the bark provided forage for horses and mules and a type of medicinal tea for the owners. The trees were also used as trail markers and staging areas by both Native Americans and early European settlers.

Why they are annoying

Cottonwood seeds have a white fluffy coating that resembles cotton, which is why they are sometimes known as cotton trees. Cotton trees produce these seeds in late spring to early summer and wrap them in a white fluff that looks like cotton.

Aside from the fact that this is an annoyance, it also provokes allergic reactions in people. As the cotton is flammable in high enough quantities, it can be a fire risk.

Cottonwood trees

3. Pine trees

Found in Europe, Asia and North America, these trees can grow up to 40m tall and have a diameter of 1-1.5m. The leaves are needle-like and the tree produces large amounts of pollen which is a nuisance for many people.

What are Pine Trees?

Pine trees (genus: Pinus) are evergreen coniferous trees that can range from 10-150 feet tall. There are over 100 species of pine trees worldwide, with most of them concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere.

Why they are annoying

Pine trees produce large amounts of pollen which can be a nuisance for many people, especially those with hay fever or other allergies. Pollen is released by the male cones and transported by the wind to fertilize the female cones. Once pollinated, the female cones will produce seeds.

Pine trees also produce a significant amount of air pollution. They emit gases that react with airborne chemicals, many of which are generated by human activity, forming tiny, imperceptible particles that cloud the air.

Pine trees

4. Black walnut trees

Found in North America, such trees can grow up to 25m tall and have an average diameter of 1.2m. The leaves are large and the tree produces dark wood which is prized by many people. However, the tree also produces a chemical which prevents other plants from growing nearby.

Why they are annoying

Black walnut trees produce a chemical called juglone, which prevents other plants from growing. This can be a problem for gardeners who want to grow other plants near a black walnut tree.

Juglone is found in the leaves, nuts and bark of black walnut trees. When these parts of the tree decompose, juglone is released into the soil and can prevent other plants from growing. Juglone can also be transmitted to other plants through root grafting.

Other trees you can choose from

It’s tempting to choose a popular tree simply because it is a desired species. It is not always the best tree for you and your garden, even if it is sought-after. There are many other nut trees that are superior to the black walnut tree.

  • English Walnut 
  • Pecan Trees
  • Pistachio Trees
Black walnut trees

5. Chinese tallow tree

Found in Asia and introduced to North America, these trees can grow up to 12m tall and have a diameter of 0.6-1.2m. The leaves are heart-shaped and the tree produces a sap which is poisonous to people and animals.

What are Chinese Tallow Trees?

Chinese Tallow trees (Triadica sebifera) are fast-growing deciduous trees that are native to China and Taiwan. They were introduced to North America in the 18th century as a potential source of oil.

Why they are annoying

Chinese tallow trees produce a sap that is poisonous to people and animals if ingested. The sap can also cause skin irritation in some people. Both the leaves and the berries are poisonous to livestock. Sheep and goats have been observed eating Chinese tallow plant leaves.

Chinese tallow trees

6. Tree Tumbo

The Namib desert is one of the world’s most stunning terrains, and its stunted vegetation may be seen throughout all four seasons. The Tree Tumbo thrives in dry environments with little water and can grow to a height of 2 meters.

More about the Tree Tumbo

The tree Tumbos forms only two leaves, each of which may extend to 4 to 9 meters (13 to 29.5 feet) in length and split along their length as the plant matures, making it seem like there are many leaves. Tumbo plants are either male or female, and they produce pink to red male cones or bluish green female cones, with a length of 1 to 8 centimetres with the smaller ones being male.

Why they are annoying

To be honest, they’re not actually all that bad, but they are a bit odd looking as you can see in the image below. I always think this plant looks like it is on the verge of death with it’s mass of desiccated vegetation, but they are, in fact, an example of life flourishing in an exceptional location.

tree tumbo

7. Manchineel Tree

The manchineel tree (Hippomane mancinella), a plant that grows in various tropical regions of North and South America, is a species of tree.

What are Manchineel Trees?

The manchineel tree is a tropical evergreen tree that can grow up to 15 meters (49 feet) tall. It has smooth, greenish-gray bark and small, yellowish-green leaves. The tree produces a green fruit that resembles an apple.

Why they are annoying

The manchineel tree is considered to be one of the most dangerous trees in the world. The tree produces a poisonous fruit that can cause skin irritation, vomiting, and even death if ingested. The sap of the tree is also poisonous and can cause blindness if it gets into your eyes. The foliage, seeds, and roots of this plant were used to poison arrows by the Carib Indians too, so make sure you stay away!

Manchineel Tree

8. Boab prison tree

The boab prison tree (Adansonia gregorii) is a large tree that grows in the northwestern Australia. The tree can grow up to 18 meters (59 feet) tall and has a trunk diameter of 2-3 meters (6.5-9.8 feet).

Cultural significance

Since the early 1900s, it has been said that the tree had been used by the local Aboriginal people for things such as religious seremonies, resting places or an important place to meet.

Why it’s important

The tree gets its name from the fact that it was used as a prison by the Aboriginal people. It has a large hollow trunk that can hold up to six people. The prisoners would be put into the trunk and the entrance would be blocked off with a piece of bark. It also looks pretty daunting which is why I have added it to my list!

Boab prison tree

9. Sunland Boab tree

The enormous baobab known as Sunland Baobab is in Limpopo Province, South Africa. The tree is on Sunland Farm near Modjadjiskloof, Limpopo Province.

Why it’s important

The tree is a popular tourist attraction and is the largest boab tree in the world. The tree has a circumference of 47 meters (154 feet) and a height of 22 meters (72 feet). The tree is also thought to be around 6,000 years old, making it one of the oldest living things on Earth. I wouldn’t say this is nessessarily an ugly tree, but it certainly is a strange one in comparison to other species.

Sunland Boab tree

10. Crooked Forest of Gryfino

The Crooked Forest (Polish: Krokowe Bory; German: Krüppelwald) is a grove of approximately 400 pines (Pinus sylvestris) located in western Poland.

Why it’s important

The trees were planted around 1930 and are bent at the base of the trunk, with the tops of the trees growing straight up. The cause of the deformity is unknown, but it is thought to be caused by human activity.

Why they are annoying

The Crooked Forest can be considered a bit of an eyesore, but can also be beatiful, it is entirely subjective. Personally, I think it’s well worth the visit irrespective of if you think the trees are ugly.

Crooked Forest of Gryfino

Conclusion

So hopefully you now have more of an understanding of some of the worlds ugliest trees. Try not to take my opinion as biblical, have a look for yourself and make your own judgement! So let’s summarise the 10 ugliest trees:

  • Sandbox Tree (Hura Crepitans)
  • Cottonwood trees
  • Pine trees
  • Black walnut trees
  • Chinese tallow tree
  • Tree Tumbo
  • Manchineel Tree
  • Boab prison tree
  • Sunland Boab tree
  • Crooked Forest of Gryfino
conclusion trees
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Oliver Wright

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