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8 majestic trees in Hong Kong and where to find them

Trees play an important part in our ecosystem and have a fantastic Hidden Life that we often take for granted.

With 554 tree species that exist in Hong Kong we highlight some of the most spectacular specimens and where to find them!

The Enchanted Old Balete Tree

Along the upper section of Yuen Tsuen Ancient trail (right after the climb behind Hong Kong Adventist Hospital) stands an enchantingly tall balete tree - or more commonly known as the banyan tree.

In Philippine folklore, balete trees are believed to be a home for spirits, deities and mysterious creatures, and cutting down such a tree would require a sacrifice, oftentimes that of the perpetrator. May that be a lesson to you - look, admire, but do not touch!

The full Yuen Tsuen Ancient Trail is 12.9km and takes around 4 and a half hours to complete. The neighbouring abandoned school of Lin Fa Shan, makes for an interesting explore whilst you're in the area.

The Common Derris

Although technically not a tree, but a climber plant, the derris trifoliata is a thick, wooded vine that can be found creeping up the walls of Lai Chi Wo or entwined around larger trees. Those found at Lai Chi Wo are said to be over 120 years old, and a hike out to see these beauties make for a great day out.

Take the short Wu Kau Tang - Lai Chi Wo loop for a 3.5 hour hike or catch a 90-minute Kaito into the 300-year-old community from Ma Liu Shui.

Stone Wall Trees

It would be amiss to talk about majestic trees in Hong Kong without touching upon the characteristic banyan trees that grow off the masonry stone retaining walls throughout the city. These stone walls were built between the 19th century and World War II by the government to prevent landslides and protect the roads.

Over the years, the strong, adaptive banyan species grew within the cracks and evolved into full grown, towering trees. You can find some of these along Forbes Street in Kennedy Town and throughout the city here.

A Treehole

There are two popular "treeholes" that people like to take Instagram photos of - one along Maclehose Section 4 and the other at Fei Ngo Shan (or Kowloon Peak). Although the one at Fei Ngo Shan is not mapped on Google Maps, we found a great blog here that explains how to get to it. The one at Maclehose Section 4 is luckily right at the beginning so you don't need to do the full point-to-point trail if you don't want to. But if you do have time, the 12.9km trail which takes roughly 4 hours 40 minutes to complete covers Ma On Shan, Pyramid Hill and Wan Kuk Shan ridge - all of which are pretty spectacular. *Same as the other listings in this blog, be careful when exploring and be sure to respect the site and not cause any damage to the tree so others may also enjoy its beauty.

Ancient Indian Rubber Tree

Indian Rubber trees or ficus elastica are quite common in Hong Kong, but none quite as magnificent as the one along the Peak Circular Walk or Victoria Peak Loop. Although a very popular walk amongst tourists for its accessibility and location, the paved 3.5km walk can take between an hour or an hour and a half to complete and is best enjoyed in the early hours before the crowds arrive.

Enjoy views over the city, and of course the towering, regal Indian Rubber Tree that calls this trail home.

The Vine King

This spectacular twisty tree is like something out of a magical fairy tale.

The "Vine King", "King of Gogovine" or Entada phaseoloides is very rare in Hong Kong and has been listed under the Rare and Precious Plants of Hong Kong, and, naturally, it attracts many hikers and admirers. Although admired by many, it unfortunately did not stop its mutilation in June last year.

The King of Gogovine can be found at the crossroads of several hiking trails, but the 6.8km Mau Ping Ancient Trail is relatively easy and takes approximately 3 hours to complete. Enjoy the neighbouring bamboo groves and abandoned huts along the way, and of course, don't forget to show your respect to the king!

Kam Tin Tree House

This isn't your average or "traditional treehouse"- it's even better in our opinion, and a great reminder of how resilient and powerful mother nature can be!

The history of this tree house stems back 340 years, when it was used as a study hall by the Tang Clan. The aerial roots of this Banyan tree expanded around the brick house until it was completely engulfed and took over the structure, which was said to have been abandoned by its last known occupant during the Qing Dynasty (1611-1911). There isn't a hike to witness this trail as it lies in the middle of Shu Mei Village, but it's still worth the visit just to be reminded of how great mother nature is!

Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees

Last but definitely not least, we can't talk about majestic trees and not mention the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees. These two banyan trees are part of a shrine in the Fong Ma Po Village of Lam Tsuen, and gathers tourists all year round. Visitors previously made a wish upon a piece of joss paper tired to an orange, and would throw this up at the tree in the hopes of it catching. If it did, your wish was believed to come true. However, this practice was banned in 2005 when a branch broke under the weight of everyone's wishes. Although this practice no longer takes place and no hiking is required to view these trees, it still makes for an interesting visit.

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