Tree of Ténéré

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Coordinates: 17°45′00″N 10°04′00″E / 17.75000°N 10.06667°E / 17.75000; 10.06667

Tree of Ténéré (1961)
Ténéré Tree is located in Niger
Ténéré Tree
Ténéré Tree
Original location of the Ténéré Tree in Niger.

The Ténéré Tree (French: L'Arbre du Ténéré) was a solitary acacia, of either Acacia raddiana[1] or Acacia tortilis,[2] that was once considered the most isolated tree on Earth[3]—the only one for over 400 kilometres (250 mi). It was a landmark on caravan routes through the Ténéré region of the Sahara Desert in northeast Niger, so well known that it and the Arbre Perdu (Lost Tree) to the north are the only trees to be shown on a map at a scale of 1:4,000,000. The Tree of Ténéré was located near a 40-metre (130 ft) deep well. It was knocked down in 1973, by a drunken truck driver.


The Tree of Ténéré was the last of a group of trees that grew when the desert was less parched than it is today. The tree had stood alone for decades. During the winter of 1938–1939 a well was dug near the tree and it was found that the roots of the tree reached the water table 33–36 meters (108 to 118 feet) below the surface.

Commander of the Allied Military Mission, Michel Lesourd, of the Service central des affaires sahariennes [Central service of Saharan affairs], saw the tree on May 21, 1939:

In his book L'épopée du Ténéré, French ethnologist and explorer Henri Lhote described his two journeys to the Tree of Ténéré. His first visit was in 1934 on the occasion of the first automobile crossing between Djanet and Agadez. He describes the tree as "an Acacia with a degenerative trunk, sick or ill in aspect. Nevertheless, the tree has nice green leaves, and some yellow flowers". He visited it again 25 years later, on 26 November 1959 with the Berliet-Ténéré mission, but found that it had been badly damaged after a vehicle had collided with it:

Death and replacement[edit]

Metal sculpture of the tree (1985)
The pavilion housing the tree's remains in Niamey

The Tree of Ténéré was knocked down by a drunk Libyan truck driver in 1973.[5] On November 8, 1973, the dead tree was moved to the Niger National Museum in the capital Niamey.[4]

It has since been replaced by a simple metal sculpture representing the tree.

In popular culture[edit]

The sculpture representing the Tree of Ténéré and the Tree's story feature prominently in the 2006 film La Gran final (The Great Match). In the film, a group of Tuareg nomads in the Sahara race to find a power supply and broadcast reception for their television in time to watch the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final between Germany and Brazil, eventually using the tree sculpture as a makeshift antenna.

In 2017, Symmetry Labs created a massive, 4-story tall LED sculpture entitled "Tree of Tenere" that was showcased at Burning Man.[6] The sculpture consisted of 25,000 molded leaves containing 175,000 LED's.

In 2018, the tree's story has appeared as a main theme in the official music video of 'Transmission/Michaelion'[7] by Ibeyi.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Riedacker, A. (1993). Physiologie des arbres et arbustes en zones arides et semi-arides: séminaire, Paris-Nancy, 20 mars-6 avril 1990 (in French). John Libbey Eurotext. p. 406. ISBN 2-7420-0019-4. Retrieved 2009-08-11. L'Hote (1961) note dans son article sur l'arbre du Ténéré (Acacia raddiana) que l'on aurait retrouvé ses racines à 30 métres de profondeur.
  2. ^ Le Roy, Robert (1998). Méhariste au Niger: souvenirs sahariens (in French). Karthala Editions. p. 108. ISBN 2-86537-778-4. Retrieved 2009-08-11. It avait fallu à cet acacia tortilis une belle vigueur et une fameuse chance pour subsister là, seul, jusqu'à élever son feuillage hors de portée des gazelles.
  3. ^ Wagensonner, Eric (2007-01-15). "Eastern Mali to Niger to Timbuktu - 2–19 September 06". Border-Crossings. Retrieved 2009-08-11.
  4. ^ a b c L'Arbre du Ténéré, Part 2
  5. ^ L'arbre du Ténéré, symbole de la survie dans le Sahara(in French)
  6. ^
  7. ^ music video by Ibeyi

External links[edit]