SciencePunk

In north east India, bridges aren’t built – they’re grown! The rainforests of Cherrapunji are credited with being one of the wettest places on Earth, and timber bridges would quickly rot. Locals have an innovative solution – grow bridges out of living trees. Like many in the banyan family, the rubber fig has secondary roots that grow above the soil surface. By guiding these roots across chasms, villagers can slowly grow a strong, permanent bridge. Amazing pictures below the fold!

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More pictures and info are available on the Living Root Bridges blog.

Hat tip to Mo at Neurophilosophy

Comments

  1. #1 Elizabeth Abbott
    August 9, 2009

    Very interesting article and photos.

  2. #2 Element alchemist
    August 9, 2009

    That is amazing holy crud imgine the possibilities they should totally use that in like an Indiana Jones movie. That is simply amazing imgine if we were to use that more often for other types of engineering projects than we wouldn’t have to worry so much about global warming or structural integrity.

  3. #3 Mr Cronk
    August 9, 2009

    Yeah that’s right! We wouldn’t have to worry about structural integrity at all! Doesn’t matter what weight you put on the bridge, nature will just like, kind of do it, yeah? Cool.

    And those bridges like, they sort of solve global warming as well. Wow.

    Simply imgine it.

  4. #4 jake puff
    August 9, 2009

    I am imgine-ing so hard right now about the possibilities that I may just burst.

  5. #5 David
    August 9, 2009

    Wow. I am imgining it too—plants are just awesome! we shouldn’t eat them, theyre just majick

  6. #6 Bri
    August 9, 2009

    Uh Like WoW man.

  7. #7 plb
    August 9, 2009

    The only obstacle now is to undo the previous generation of environMENTAL rules that banned the Banyan tree. Too much growth, ban fast growing plants like the Banyan. Not enough green, ban industrial engineering.

  8. #8 jen
    August 9, 2009

    these comments are weird. ????? great bridges!

  9. #9 SurvivalTopics.com
    August 9, 2009

    Very interesting!!! Thank you for sharing this – a bridge that will always take care of itself.

  10. #10 Ken
    August 9, 2009

    I would imgining it too, if I knew what that means. These bridges are quite useless..Don’t see how they could support the weight of my Hummer.

  11. #11 Dewey
    August 9, 2009

    These bridges aren’t meant to accommodate Hummers, tard.

  12. #12 tommy
    August 10, 2009

    that’s incredible! thank you for sharing!

  13. #13 Sam
    August 10, 2009

    clearly this is what god intended the trees to be used for

  14. #14 Danielle
    August 10, 2009

    I want to live in a town made completely of bio engineered structures.

  15. #15 Justin
    August 10, 2009

    I’m a tree

  16. #16 aaron
    August 10, 2009

    agreed wit danielle. or at least for a while or a visit. i think d thatd be effin awesome hah.

  17. #17 Jordan
    August 10, 2009

    Uh Like WoW man..

  18. #18 Sard
    August 10, 2009

    Of course they’re not meant to accommodate Hummers; that was the joke, tard.

  19. #19 Jim
    August 10, 2009

    You cant have a hummer made of tree roots, tard

  20. #20 Jared
    August 10, 2009

    I would love to see this adapted for providing shade over roads or parking lots. Too much blacktop just baking in direct Florida summer heat.

    There’s a stretch of road near my house with big oak trees on either side. No matter the time of day, it’s aways in the shade. It’s beautiful, almost the iconic image of a two-lane rural road. But trees can’t support cantilevered limbs like that for anything more than two lanes. Fig trees supported on both sides seem like the only way to go.

  21. #21 Frank the SciencePunk
    August 10, 2009

    @20. Jared
    Nice idea, but these are roots not branches – they have no leaves, so not very good at creating shade!

  22. #22 anon
    August 11, 2009

    im 12 and what is this?

  23. #23 Brian King
    August 13, 2009

    Found this through Stumble. Really cool idea. Only problem is that we in the West don’t have the patience for the years it would take to make a root bridge.

  24. #24 geno
    Atlanta
    February 6, 2013

    This comment thread is hilarious.

  25. #25 Marco
    February 6, 2013

    Just imagine.. 5-10 years to build a bridge that you take 1-2 months to build with steel and concrete..

    Just saying that the concept is good for india.. but here? not at all..

  26. #26 Jon Stewart
    February 6, 2013

    Ever see a bridge… on weed??

  27. #27 Ruggy
    February 6, 2013

    Looks good for now, but what happens when plants turn against us? The Fig isn’t part of the Venus Fly Trap family, is it? I’d hate to be eaten by a bridge.

  28. #28 Arthur T. Murray
    Seattle WA USA
    February 6, 2013

    “Do you know Teresa Green”"

    “No.”

    “Well, they are!”

  29. #29 David
    Brazil
    February 6, 2013

    Why the fuck do the comments look like they were made by 12 year olds?

  30. #30 Nitin
    February 6, 2013

    @marco
    Well Indian govt. never leaves any steel or concrete for its people so they have to use these methods

  31. #31 Billy Bob
    Saskatoon
    February 6, 2013

    The bridges are in the rain forest. Are these bridges for monkeys?

  32. #32 8/9/09 was a good day for this thread.
    Rio de Janeiro
    February 6, 2013

    I imgine that monkeys can use them too.

  33. #33 Human Person
    The Moon
    February 7, 2013

    i like roots; that become bridges, the trees are helping us……………………………………..

  34. #34 Jungle VIP
    February 7, 2013

    As a monkey I have no need or reason to use bridges, I merely swing from branch to branch.