Timeless Marvel: Italy’s Ancient Ruin and the Enigmatic Upside-Down Suspended Fig Tree

In Naples, Italy, visitors to the ruins of Baiae which sit within the modern city of Bacoli will find a botanical take on Stranger Things’ The Upside Down. Here, from the ceiling of a cave in the Parco Archeologico delle Terme di Baia, a fig tree has grown the wrong way up. Exactly how the gravity-defying tree came to be there has botanists stumped, but its unlikely placement doesn’t seem to be slowing it down as it continues to grow (albeit, downwards) and bear fruit.

The upside-down fig tree can be viewed by visitors to the Parco Archeologico delle Terme di Baia.

Looking at the tenacious tree growing out of the ceiling of an ancient Roman archway, it’s easy to see why it’s called the upside-down tree. It is literally inverted, growing toward the ground, which is quite rare. No one knows exactly how the fig tree ended up there, or how long it has been growing for, but one thing is for sure – despite its bizarre location, the fig tree if Baia is growing stronger every year, and sometimes it even bears fruit.

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The common fig tree (Ficus carica) was one of the first plants ever cultivated by humans, with fig fossils having been found in the Jordan Valley dating back to 9400 BC. So it is rather fitting for this particular gravity-defying tree to be located in the ancient Roman town of Baiae.

Fig trees usually prefer dry and sunny places, but their strong roots and the ability to thrive on little water allow the plant to support itself in inhospitable places, and the upside-down tree is proof of that.

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Once a lively retreat for Rome’s ruling class, Baiae is now an archaeological park that attracts tourists from all over the world. In recent years, the upside-down fig tree has become one of the site’s biggest attractions. After all, it’s proof that nature always finds a way.

The upside-down fig tree is just one of the many botanical oddities we’ve featured in the last 15 years, amazing places like The Devil’s Gardens or Saskatchewan’s Crooked Bush.

 

 

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Naples International Airport is the closest to the ancient Roman era archaeological remains. Once in Bacoli, the upside-down fig tree can be found opposite the Temple of Mercury in the Parco Archeologico delle Terme di Baia.

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