In reality, trees do move and spontaneously, but just not in the way humans do.

Take the case of the dipterocarp: a family of trees that dominate the great tropical rainforests of Malaysia. In fact, no other family of trees anywhere else in the world comes close in its dominance of a biome.

So, some might say, dipterocarps are a truly Malaysian tree, a sort of national symbol as it were.

Except, dipterocarps arrived in Malaysia via the Indian subcontinent. Nor did they originate in India. In fact, their origins are African.

They didn’t uproot themselves and walk over though–no, they arrived in Malaysia as a result of gradual continental drift (still happening by the way!), when the Deccan plate broke off from the Gondwana supercontinent and collided with Laurasia or the Asian plate.

Then, like the von Trapps, the dipterocarps climbed every mountain in the Himalayas (formed as a result of that collision) to find refuge in Malaysia.

A few of them stayed behind in India, the most well-known of these being the sal tree or Shorea robusta of the sub-tropical Himalayas.

The sal tree makes many appearances in the great Indian epics and is also represented by the nymph of the sal tree or Shalabhanjika. She is a woman so fertile, plants flower as she walks past them.

Shalabhanjika is typically portrayed in stone sculpture as a very voluptuous woman (and never smoking), but I prefer this painting of her standing under a sal tree enjoying her hookah in solitude. It’s a feeling to which I can relate.