A fundamental property of an organism is its size. Ecologists like to measure trees’ diameters because they are good predictors of a tree’s biomass and thus its role in the ecosystem. Measuring tapes work well, but can become unwieldy on large trees. The hug then becomes the unit of choice.

Here is a large Jacaranda copaia – at least three hugs around.


And here is a tree larger yet – a thoroughly unhuggable Ceiba pentandra rising up into the sky. This is BCI’s “big tree” which merits its own symbol on maps of the island. I felt so small and young, looking up into its canopy.


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