Previously, I asked several questions about living in a massive banyan tree whose branches were about 600 feet up. Though I can't find the comments, I was informed that there would be very high winds at that elevation which would make life very difficult, if not impossible.

So I've redesigned my banyan trees. I want to make sure they can still live and grow properly, and will not be crushed under their own weight. Here's the scenario:

In my fantasy novel, elves live on large plants similar to banyan trees. These trees live in a massive swamp with nearly constant fog. The branches stretch out across the ground, averaging about 20-50 feet above the ground. These branches are supported by regular aerial roots. The branches average ~10 feet in diameter.

Is this scenario realistic?

  • Everything else about the planet is earth-like.
  • The tree branches need to be able to support their own weight, as well as that of several thousand elves and their cities. All of this will be spread out over the entirety of the tree(s) however.
  • I don't know if it matters, but there are also people living beneath the trees.
  • A side question is if the tree would get enough light with the constant fog. If not, could it send up vertical branches to sprout leaves above the fog?
  • The fog extends upwards 100-600 feet.
  • Magic is present, but I would prefer to use it only if I have to. If there is something small that just won't work otherwise, you can handwave it with magic.
  • $\begingroup$ If I remember correctly, there's a type of tree that the branches seed roots/additional trunks somehow. Trying to look it up. Might be relevant. $\endgroup$
    – Andon
    May 4, 2017 at 19:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Andon Probably the banyan. That's what it does: sends down aerial roots to support its branches so they can maintain horizontal growth. $\endgroup$ May 4, 2017 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ I have a mental image of something completely different - But it very well could be something from a movie or book that I saw once. $\endgroup$
    – Andon
    May 4, 2017 at 21:38
  • $\begingroup$ High winds are not really going to be a problem: just ask anyone who flies a small plane. The real problem is that that there are mechanical factors limiting the height of a tree to about 425 ft/130 m, which isn't that much more than the tallest actual trees. See e.g. livescience.com/14667-tall-trees-grow.html $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    May 5, 2017 at 5:09
  • $\begingroup$ Also, the coast redwood does grow where there's quite a bit of fog. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    May 5, 2017 at 17:54

1 Answer 1


from http://www.the-fowles.com/_Media/83_a_statue_of_edison_insid.jpeg enter image description here

It turns out it is actually Thomas Edison who lives beneath the trees as seen here.

What you describe is very close to what banyans actually are like.

As regard fog / low light you could have your trees pigmented like shade-adapted rainforest plants. Coleus is cool looking because of the vivid reds.

enter image description here

I had always thought that the reds helped do photosynthesis in low light. On doing the back reading it turns out that in the deep shade the reds fade. They are protective against strong light. So the tops of your trees could be red or purple to defend against the sun occasionally coming out, with leaves lower down being regular green.

  • $\begingroup$ Can I have the branches be 100 feet up, instead of 20-50? Or will that cause problems? Remember these branches are 10 feet thick. $\endgroup$ May 6, 2017 at 14:37

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