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Daily Drip

24/7 Livestream Makes Shanghai’s ‘Loneliest Tree’ Slightly Less Lonely

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There is no shortage of bizarre livestreams on the internet, from the ‘bulbcam’ in California (a stream of the world’s oldest known lightbulb) to Alaska’s ‘brown bear cam.’ The ‘lonely tree cam,’ a 24-hour live video broadcast of Shanghai’s loneliest tree, was recently added to this unique club.

Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden launched the 24/7 live broadcast on November 17. The tree, located on a hill in the botanical garden, is reportedly a Catalpa speciosa — a species native to the midwestern United States.

The livestream is available online and features the solitary tree atop a grassy slope. The composition of the livestream shot leads one to believe that the tree is entirely alone on the hillside, although this is not the case: There are other trees on the hill, but the wide spacing between them creates the feeling of ‘loneliness.’

A Catalpa speciosa at the University of Idaho Arboretum and Botanical Garden

A Catalpa speciosa at the University of Idaho Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Image via Wikimedia

After coming across online chatter about the tree on Chinese social media, we decided to check out the livestream to see what all the hype is about. After watching a few minutes of the live footage today, we can see why people are so enthralled: The lone, leafless tree has a certain beauty in the cool autumn air, with the grassy ground low in the video’s frame and the big sky featured prominently.

According to a post from a news account on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging platform, “Because of how ‘lonely’ [the tree] is, it has become popular among Chinese netizens, and a lot of people have come to take pictures with it. On November 17, Chenshan Botanical Garden started a livestream for this lonely tree. Netizens can spend time with this tree online, and they can also leave messages for it.”

Lonely Tree Shanghai

Screengrab via Weibo

On Weibo, the hashtags ‘A tree in the park is famous for being lonely’ (#公园一个树因孤独感走红#) and ‘Botanical garden has a 24-hour livestream for a tree’ (#植物园24小时直播一棵树#) have 2.5 million and 1.6 million views, respectively. (With so much attention, we assume Shanghai’s loneliest tree is slightly less lonely.)

“I saw a quote today that said, ‘Freedom is when you are lonely but standing tall, and you are not afraid of anything.’ That [quote] reminds me of this tree,” wrote one Weibo user.

“The tree is not lonely; it is beautiful,” commented another netizen on the livestream.

In addition to joining the ranks of quirky online broadcasts, we hope Shanghai’s solitary Catalpa speciosa may one day be counted among such celebrity trees as California’s massive General Sherman, British Columbia’s famous Golden Spruce, and England’s ancient Ashbrittle Yew.

Cover image: screengrab via Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden’s livestream

Matthew Bossons
Matt is RADII's managing editor. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Matt has worked as a journalist in China for over half a decade and has had work published in major Chinese media outlets and international publications. He has previously lived in Guangzhou and Beijing and is now a Shanghairen. In his spare time, Matt enjoys knapping stone tools, sampling craft beer, and tossing on his scuba gear for an underwater adventure.

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