Being in the OTR tire business we deal with rubber everyday, and everyday we deal rubber all over the globe. So when I learned about these very cool rubber trees in Northeastern India that the locals use to create bridges from the roots, I had to share it with our readers. These bridges are apparently very strong and some can even support up to 50 people at a time. Not only are they strong and functional, they are also very cool looking and basically maintain themselves by continually growing.
In the depths of northeastern India, in one of the wettest places on earth, bridges aren’t built—they’re grown.
The southern Khasi and Jaintia hills are humid and warm, crisscrossed by swift-flowing rivers and mountain streams. On the slopes of these hills, a species of Indian rubber tree with an incredibly strong root system thrives and flourishes.
The Ficus elastica produces a series of secondary roots from higher up its trunk and can comfortably perch atop huge boulders along the riverbanks, or even in the middle of the rivers themselves. The War-Khasis, a tribe in Meghalaya, long ago noticed this tree and saw in its powerful roots an opportunity to easily cross the area’s many rivers. Now, whenever and wherever the need arises, they simply grow their bridges.
In order to make a rubber tree’s roots grow in the right direction—say, over a river—the Khasis use betel nut trunks, sliced down the middle and hollowed out, to create root-guidance systems. The thin, tender roots of the rubber tree, prevented from fanning out by the betel nut trunks, grow straight out. When they reach the other side of the river, they’re allowed to take root in the soil. Given enough time, a sturdy, living bridge is produced. (Atlas Obscura)
Visit the article page to see some more cool pictures and learn more about the root bridges of Cherrapunji.
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