Junkyard workers enshrine tree that grew to lift a car


James of Japan Probe reports that a Japanese hackberry tree, which sprouted from a seed in a junkyard 25 years ago, has managed to lift a car in the air. "Workers at the junkyard have built a small fence around the tree, and are protecting it as it continues to grow," he writes. Video here.


  1. This is not how trees grow. If a tree were to grow with a car on top of it, it would just grow around it. The tree would not lift the car.

    Imagine nailing a sign to a tree. 25 years later, the sign would be at the same height, if it were still there….

    They had to have put this car in the tree somehow.


  2. Really?

    Trees grow from the base? So why aren’t all those old farmers fences 20 feet off the ground?

    Trees grow from the top, not the base.

    Besides, that car’s in pretty damn good condition considering it’s been sitting in a tree for a quarter century.

    I call fake.

  3. @3 – Well, obviously it’s the fences which keep those particular trees from growing from the base ;)

    Apart from the good mechanical condition of the car, do they explain how the car is kept so clean ? Hard to imagine 25 year’s worth of birds not leaving a trace :)

  4. Yes, trees grow from the top. But if the car was ontop of the tree to begin with then it would in fact be lifted by the growing tree. Have a little imagination.

  5. Fake? Yeah, and it’s crazy how they wedged those car doors into the growing branches. It is a real phenomenon and opens up glorious new worlds in topiary. Think of all the great junk that could become part of a living sculpture. I’m planting my TV tree today. The animation at 1:25 in the video is terrific.

  6. Awesome. Kind of a preview for what large parts of this planet will look like years from now, after all of us naked apes have gone the way of the Dodo.

  7. I don’t know whether this is a fake or not (I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s a really Wonderful Thing) but I must ask Coop and Cedehi:

    a) how did you arrive at your respective conclusions that the car is in “pretty damn good” and “good mechanical” condition, and

    b) do you want to buy a car?

  8. @Mojave: yes indeed. This is the second recent boingboing post that’s reminded me of Peace In The Valley Once Again by the Handsome Family. The other one was the ‘coon hunter of Detroit.

  9. AGIES – if the car was on top of the tree to begin with it never would have gotten enough sunlight to grow.

    I say the probability of this being real is very small.

  10. Maybe given the right care and enough time, (25 years is a while), and the right support, a tree could totally lift a car!

  11. For the super visual sleuths who say it must be fake, does the position of the car look stable if it wasn’t held by the tree which has grown around it?

    If you watch the video, it’s quite convincing.

  12. Trees grow taller from growth at the top. There is only an insignificant amount height gained due to growth at the bottom. Trees grow taller because of cell division at the tips of the branches. The diameter of the trees trunk and woody parts increases because of cell division in a layer between the bark and wood called the cambium. This is how the tree forms growth rings.

    A fence post nailed to a tree will remain at the same height but will be pushed outward.

    Ref http://learningstore.uwex.edu/pdf/G3277.pdf

  13. Another way it might not be fake is if the tree grew all in the car while the ground underneath the car eroded away. If the erosion was slow enough, the tree would accommodate it while still supporting the tree within its structure.

  14. This is not necessarily fake, but the explanation is wrong.
    The tree grew through a PILE of junked cars. When the workers removed the surrounding junk, the tree held the remaining junk in place, including the car that was on top of the pile.

  15. @PaulBowen a) Maybe this is bias from my Canadian heritage, but I would expect a lot more rust on that car. The right side and the front underside seem to show very little if no rust at all. The left side seems to have been damaged by something other than a growing tree leading to less protection from the elements on that side, but still just a little rust there? The tires are clean too :)

    b) Nah, I’ll drive my 9 year old car until it bursts into flame.. Although I am starting to get a little rust though on my poor Toyota Echo :p

    I noticed that some elements such as the bike and some (rusted) door panels have been eaten by the tree somewhat. Partial fake ?

    @ForgeWeld It looks as though the car’s front right wheel/frame is preventing the car from sliding down. That could have been rigged, but I’d need visual confirmation on-spot to tell. :p

  16. Mr. Frauenfelder, you are delightfully credulous. Every week, I am absolutely floored by the wonderful world you apparently live in, where trees lift cars, and giant, mythic animals make ski tracks in the high mountain snow.

  17. I believe they placed the car in the tree several years ago, and it has since grown around it.

    If a tree could really lift something off the ground, wouldn’t we be seeing a bit more of this kind of thing? Heck, people could build tree houses on the ground on top of a few seeds if this were true.

  18. Trees don’t grow from the base, they grow from the top.

    Roots can break rocks, tiny wee shoots don’t lift cars.

    If you look at the various doors etc that are embedded within the tree, well, that’s what happens when you place a metal object on/next to a growing tree. If the tree had sprouted under the car, that’s what would have happened to the car – envelopment, not lifting. The tree grew in the scrapyard, workers leaned and dumped doors and other crap on it and then someone thought it would be neat to place a car on top.

    Leave it there long enough, and some parts will be enveloped too.

    Oh, no, my mistake. It’s on YouTube, it must be true!


    re my guess as to the car’s condition…. it looks to be in better shape (rust wise) than my 5 year old car, but as was previously noted, that may be a Canadian bias.

    I suggest that Cedeih and I visit, investigate and report back to everyone if you sponsor our trip. Are you with me Cedeih?

  19. Tree eats bicycle. Obvious fake.

    The stuff in the car tree had to have been near their present height to begin with but the tree grew around and owns them now. It would have been a pretty elaborate, long period of staging to get the tree to latch onto the car sitting at that angle.

  20. Go to the actual youtube video and expand it to full screen mode. You can see that the trunk of the tree is in fact swollen and has grown around the frame of the vehicle.

    I’ll admit when I first saw just the picture I thought it was a fake,but seeing the full size video you can tell it is real.

  21. @COOP : I think we have no choice, Science demands that we go there and investigate this non-eating-car-lifting tree in person :) What say you BoingBoing? ;)

    On the other hand, I’m a little torn on the issue. I’d hate to live in a world without magic in it :)

    Trust in the tree

  22. maybe the workers ‘helped’ the thing by raising the car up every once in a while, on concrete blocks, to be just above the tree top. this way the tree would grow up and still shape itself around the car somewhat.

    if not, then it’s likely the result of drunk driving, imo

  23. Re: Condition of car – The Japanese guys almost certainly clean it. Have you been to Japan?

  24. Since many people have already explained how trees grow and how it is not possible for a tree to lift a car in the manner of the amusing animation, I will not repeat that critique. Upon viewing the video it is apparent that there was a pile of junk around the tree, and that the tree grew into that junk. As others have pointed out, the car looks to be in astonishingly good condition considering its predicament. Looking at the tree, it appears to have recently undergone heavy pruning. The tree does not appear to have been pollarded continuously as the scaffolding limbs do not exhibit clubbing. From this is seems to me that they had a tree which grew up through a pile of junk. When the pile of junk was removed, they had a tree with a bunch of junk sticking out of it, which really isn’t that exciting. Someone may have suggested that it would be much more humorous if there were a car in the tree. Being a junkyard, this wasn’t really a difficult proposition except that there were some big pesky branches in the way. Those were removed and the car placed in the tree. Now of course this just looked like a car that had been placed in the tree, so they gave it a few months (since the heavy pruning cuts do not appear to have healed significantly) for the dormant buds to sprout some new growth. That is just my guess.

  25. You’re all ignoring the simplest explanation: what we are witnessing here is simply an Ent doing exercises. When he completes this set in another 300 years or so I’m sure he’ll set the car back down where he found it.

  26. One good kudzu plant could completely obliterate the tree and the car in a three day weekend.

  27. Coop:

    re my guess as to the car’s condition…. it looks to be in better shape (rust wise) than my 5 year old car, but as was previously noted, that may be a Canadian bias.
    I suggest that Cedeih and I visit, investigate and report back to everyone if you sponsor our trip. Are you with me Cedeih?

    1. Buy a Merc

    2. I’m in for $5

  28. @27 – I’m in, Boingers, you gonna pony up? (oh, no – that would be a Korean car (rim shot))

    @30 – Yep, was there 6 months ago. ;-)

    @31 – This is probably the answer, but only if Cedhei and I go and look at will we know for sure.

    @32 – But I like this answer the best!


  29. Reminded my of my stepbrother’s predicament in regards to an old 60’s VW Karmann Ghia he been promised as a spare to his project car.

    The car was his to have, but he didn’t act on it right away. Years, even.

    Meanwhile, a tree had grown through the front end (gas tank, hood missing).

    The folks wanted to keep the tree.

    As far as I know, the two are still together.

  30. For those who say this is a fake, take a look at the video at 0:29 and 0:36 – the growth of the tree trunk around a motorcycle handle and one of the car doors is plain to see. If you just look at the still photo, it looks much more suspect.

    I do agree that the growth occurred while much of the junk was partially suspended in a larger junk heap, as some have suggested, rather than the “seed dropped through the car onto the ground” scenario in the animated portion of the video.

  31. It’s actually simpler than that, both the car seed and the tree seed were planted together and grew up intertwined.

  32. Perhaps contrived, but it is rather convincing, the tree grew in a pile of junk, as it encountered junk it grew around, over, or through the junk. The auto was obviously at the same height as it is now, but the tree, doing as trees are wont to do has grown to include the car, motorcycle, and such pieces of autos as were in it’s way as it stretched toward the sun.
    Now if somebody can just find something that looks like Madona and Child thousands of catholics will journey to Japan to make a shrine, light a candle, and pay 5 bucks to get into the junkyard.
    Japan’s economic crunch is over!

  33. There’s a picture of a tree that’s grown through and around a motorcycle here.

    Fungi are the real champions at heavy lifting- I’ve seen mushrooms lift paving slabs, and punch directly through tarmac.

  34. This is a hackberry tree. You find them growing quite happily in some incredibly rocky territory. They tend to grow in cracks and clefts in cliffs and boulders with no real problem. One growing at the bottom of a pile of cars in a junkyard doesn’t seem unlikely at all. They’re incredibly hardy.

    I, for one, welcome our deciduous car-hefting overlords.

  35. one: cars in japan aren’t the gas guzzling beast we have here so the car is 3/4 the weight and size.

    two: The people in the junk yard probably keep the car clean.

    three: yes, a tree can grow to lift a car. Its got all the time in the world to grow strong and around it.
    A tree can break up concrete thats 6-12 inches thick with measly little roots, you don’t think a strong healthy growing tree can’t lift a stripped down can in 25 years?

    learn more about the natural world around you. You might be amazed.


  36. @ #42 Doc:
    While you admonish other commenters to “learn more about the natural world around you,” you clearly don’t have a clue about how trees grow. Yeah, trunks and roots can crumble concrete and lift pavement, but I wouldn’t bank on a tree ever becoming the world’s slowest car lift. Trees add circumference all over, but they grow up or down only at the tips of the roots and branches.

    Over 25 years, the tree could grow through and around a car that’s already off the ground, but the car isn’t going to be lifted skyward.

    For the record, I am amazed by the natural world all the time.

  37. Maybe this is bias from my Canadian heritage, but I would expect a lot more rust on that car.

    The amount of rust you will see on cars varies quite a bit depending on where you are. Here in Southern California I almost never see rust on cars, even old ones. We don’t get much rain, no snow, and most importantly, no salt on the roads.

    My Japanese isn’t very good anymore, but I think they said this was in Saitama prefecture, which is just north of Tokyo. I think they get some snow in the winter, but not anywhere near as much as most of Canada.

  38. #6 posted by Agies, June 25, 2009 11:13 AM:

    Yes, trees grow from the top. But if the car was ontop of the tree to begin with then it would in fact be lifted by the growing tree. Have a little imagination.

    No one suggested that the car wasn’t there long enough to have the tree grow around it; just that tree bases don’t rise.

    Have a little education.

  39. #40 posted by Beanolini, June 26, 2009 5:36 AM:

    Fungi are the real champions at heavy lifting- I’ve seen mushrooms lift paving slabs, and punch directly through tarmac.

    And yet I’ve seen artist conks (Ganoderma applanatum) growing around blades of grass without disturbing them.

    Wonder if the pavement mushroom (Agaricus bitorquis), which is probably the one you’ve seen lifting slabs, would do that as well… Maybe it’s only when they have to fight force from above. Dunno.

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