Japan’s Mesmerizing Tree Circles Are the Results of a 50-12 months Experiment

A cedar forest in Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan, is home to a few unusual crop-circle-like patterns that are clearly not accidental.

Photos of the bizarre patterns, only visible from above, made their way on the internet about three years ago, fueling all sorts of conspiracy theories, ranging from aliens to secret government experiments. Well, this second one was pretty close to the truth, only the experiments were not secret and were not carried out by some obscure institution, but by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. As early as 1973, a land near Nichinan City was designated as “experimental forestry” and the results of that experiment are visible today.

One of the experiments carried out in the area involved measuring the influence of tree spacing on growth. They planted cedar trees ten degrees apart to eventually form ten concentric circles that are becoming more and more compact.

50 years later, we can see that the experiment proved that density seems to affect growth, as the more densely packed cedars in the outer circles are shorter than the cedars, giving the pattern a concave appearance. According to the Japan Ministry of Agriculture, the height difference between the smallest trees in the center of the concentric pattern and the tallest trees in the outer ring was over 5 meters.

The researchers concluded that trees in less dense areas have more access to resources, while trees in the center have to compete for both sunlight and nutrients, which affects their growth.

The fascinating experiment, which lasted nearly half a century, is coming to an end, and according to Spoon and Tamago, the cedars in the area, including the two concentric patterns, should be harvested in about 2 years. However, due to the attention mysterious circles received on social media, authorities are discussing the possibility of postponing the harvest for a few more years.

For even more mesmerizing tree formations, check out Oregon’s giant smiley face and the world’s largest signature.

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