For those of us who have done their own landscaping, it comes as no surprise that trees can get a bit pricey. Cutting them down is expensive, moving them is worse, but some species are just expensive to get your hands on at all. We got to wondering about high-end trees recently and decided to look into the ‘luxury’ tree market to see what is available.
It turns out some trees are so valuable you just can’t have them, but you can pay an exorbitant fee for their wood, fruit or nuts. There are even trees so valuable that you can only measure them by how much you pay if you damage one. Naturally, this makes it a bit harder to estimate the monetary value. Despite the difficulty of calculating a fair price for these elite trees, we’ve managed to come up with a list of the 20 most valuable and expensive trees in the entire world.
20. Pink Ivory – $8 per board
This singular and highly unusual wood naturally ranges from a deep red to near neon pink. It’s often coveted for things like knife handles and billiard cues, but it was also used in traditional medicines. Because of it’s protected status it is only produced and cut sustainably and not much at a time is available. Some people consider it the rarest wood in the world (but they are mistaken, that dubious honor goes to the nearly extinct Pennantia baylisiana).
19. Cordia elaeagnoides and Cordia gerascanthus – $13-25 per board foot for 4×4
Known for it’s gorgeous and eccentric swirled grain patterns and a plethora of tiny ‘eyes’, Bocote wood is native to Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies. Trees will sometimes grow up to a hundred feet tall. The dark contrasting stripes set in a greenish or yellow background are stunning, so the wood is used for everything from Balusters to entire bedroom suites.
18. Dekopon – $9/each fruit or from $45 to over $100/tree
The Shiranui AKA Hallabong, Sumo Mandarin or Kinsei is quite literally the sweetest citrus fruit in the United States. The sugary treat is said to peel easily and virtually melt in the mouth. Crossed between a Kiyomi and a Ponkan Tangerine (Chinese Honey Orange), the fruit of this species is also known for being very low in acid. As a seedless relative of the Mandarine orange, they have a very similar appearance with a rough spherical skin that has a knob-like protrusion on top.
17. Sekai Ichi Apple – $21/per apple
This tree is a picky grower and requires lots of love. If you are willing to put in the time end effort, then you can grow your own massive apples. The Sekai Ichi apples are among the largest in the world and often weigh more than a pound apiece. The fruit is described as mild and sweet, but growers warn that it is not a crisp crunching apple like you may expect.
16. Macadamia – $20/lb of nuts (30-50 lbs of nuts or $600-1000/yr)
While you can get the tree for $10-30 the nuts this tree grows are the most expensive in the world. Macadamia nuts are highly sought after for their rich flavor, which they get from high oil content. It takes ten years for a macadamia nut tree to reach maturity and begin to produce so in addition to the initial cost, you have ten years of upkeep to pay.
15. Peltogyne purpurea AKA Purple Heart – $35/ per board foot
With a distinctive purple color, it’s obvious where this tree gets its name. Purple heartwood is used for everything from high-end flooring solutions to fine inlay. As exotic hardwoods go, this is one of the most visually dynamic and beautiful woods in the world. Oddly, the wood begins it’s life closer to a shade of grey and slowly changes to violet and then a deeper purple tone.
14. Guibourtia AKA African Rosewood – $32.99 for a 3x6x6 piece
This uncommon tree is named for Nicholas Jean Baptist Gaston Guibourt a French pharmacologist who died in 1861. The 16 species of this tree are known to grow in the jungles and swampy areas of Africa and South America. If you find yourself thinking that you weren’t aware that Africa had swamps, that goes a long way toward explaining why it costs over thirty dollars for a small block of this wood. Though trees are rare, they grow to immense size and can produce a tremendous amount of wood. The sheer size lends itself readily to making furniture.
13. Joshua tree (destruction) – $5000
You can’t put a price on the environment. Unfortunately for vandals, we can put a price on destroying just one of these unique ‘trees.’ We’re not sure why anyone would want to do that, but the per-tree fine is prohibitive, to say the least. Joshua trees aren’t technically endangered yet, but they are under review and being considered for the endangered species list. Because they only thrive in a desert climate, and in a limited area of the world, it seems more than a little bit likely that the Joshua Tree will be put on the endangered species list sooner or later.
12. Lignum Vitae AKA Guyacan or Pockholz – $224.95 for a 4x4x12 piece
Janka hardness for this wood is 4500; this means it is one of the hardest woods in the world. As such it is used for things like making boat gears. Hardiness and density aside, this wooden treasure is known for its beautiful feathered grain pattern. The wood was once commonly used to brew a tea by South American natives, and the wood itself has a pleasant perfume-like scent when worked.
11. Dalbergia Sisso AKA Sheesham, Shisham and Indian Rosewood – $4929.30 for 17.9 kg
Beautiful and decay resistant, Dalbergia has many uses. The prized wood is particularly beloved in India. Contrarily, you won’t find much Dalbergia in the United States because it is rarely exported. It is used for furniture, veneers and even boat building. Predictably, it is indeed related to African rosewood and Brazillian rosewood, and like most rosewoods, it is only mildly toxic, which is to say that reactions are rare, but can be severe when they occur with skin and lung irritation being the primary issues it can cause.
10. Ebony – $9000 plank
Modern Ebony is a darker colored wood than African Blackwood. The two share many common traits however and are often used interchangeably. Ebony is noted for its use in making guitar fretboards and native carvings among other uses. The density, coloration and natural luster of this rich black wood are what gives it value and causes people to desire it for decorative items.
9. Truffle Trees – $6,000-10,000 per pound of truffles produced
The cost of these trees is due to the fact that they have an extraordinary bonus, each tree is inoculated with truffle fungus. While the trees may not fetch a high price, the ‘fruit,’ of their labor surely does. At $6,000-10,000 per pound, the value of these trees is not in the initial purchase. Two different species of tree, the filbert, and the oak are used to create this unique symbiotic relationship with the worlds most costly and desirable fungus.
8. Agar AKA Gaharu – US$260 to even US$10,000 per catty (600 grams)
The Agar is used to make fine incense and an oil called Oud. These are in such high demand that the prices can range into the thousands for relatively small quantities. Why, you ask, would anyone pay so much for a tiny bit of wood? Well, not all agar is created equal. Only around 7-8% of the trees develop an unusual fungal infection that aids in creating the desired product.
7. Taiyo no Tamago Mango AKA “Egg of the Sun.” – $3000/per two fruit
You can’t even buy the tree in the case of this rare fruit tree. The Taiyo no Tamago is not for sale as a whole, but you can get a pair of mangoes from it for a mere USD 3000. At that price, some people choose to display their fruit and never even eat them, though the flavor is supposed to be excellent.
6. African Blackwood – $13,000 for a plank
This incredible wood was the original “ebony,” used in Egypt, though the tree called by that name now is a different species. This coveted wood is especially prized for its use in making musical instruments like clarinets and other woodwinds.
5. Fully Grown Palm Trees – $15,000
Adult palm trees aren’t cheap. They ship well and weather storms amazingly. Whether you like date palms or one of the many other varieties, there’s no denying the appeal. California doesn’t skimp on their iconic roadside (and center) decorations.
4. Sandalwood – $20,000
Sandalwood is known for its aromatic properties. The lovely, almost floral smell is sought for perfumes, and the wood is carved into ornate boxes, decorative fans, and many other objects as well. These trees are listed as conservation status ‘Vulnerable,’ which means they are likely to become endangered if not adequately protected and nurtured. The oil alone is worth almost $2000/kg, and the wood of this sweet-smelling tree is the second most expensive lumber in the world.
3. Variegated Sabal Palmetto AKA Cabbage Palm – $20,000 or more
Though these are exceptionally rare, some Sabal Palmetto trees create bi-colored fronds. The genetic mutation that causes the colorful quirk only happens about once in every million trees. Finding a mutant tree with an incredible two-tone frond is improbable, but even more so in light of the alarmingly incurable Texas Phoenix Palm Decline, which has been killing off cabbage palms in recent years.
2. Redwood – $25,000
You can’t have an old redwood. They are incredibly rare and extremely protected. While you can get younger Redwood for building and crafting, the protected redwoods, however, will run you thousands of dollars if you cut them down and you’ll pay twice because you can’t even keep the wood.
1. Pine Bonsai – $1.3 million
One particular bonsai tree sold for over a million dollars at the International Bonsai Convention (Japan). The tree in question is a pine that is centuries old. Similar old bonsais have sold for closer to $90,000 making this style of trees the most expensive in the world. Though the term bonsai refers to a method of growing rather than a species, they are still collectively the top-grossing trees.
*Priceless- Pennantia baylisiana
The P. Baylisiana is the only surviving member of its species in the wild. Things weren’t always so dire for the tree, but apparently, the species is especially appealing as snack food for goats, who were introduced to the Three Kings Islands (off of New Zealand) by humans. While scientists are working to grow additional trees from seeds and cuttings, the experiments haven’t been wholly successful.
Whatever wood-related project you may have in mind, from planting rare trees at home to simply buying the best fret for a guitar, these trees are the most exclusive in the world. While you’ll ever get your hands on some of these, others are well worth the fee for the beauty.