40 Breathtaking Examples Of Nature Reclaiming The World Around It When Civilization Isn’t Looking

Humanity has undoubtedly left its mark on the Earth, with much of the planet now being highly urbanized. But when you leave an area, building or object alone for a while, nature has its ways of reclaiming them. And that applies to something as large as an old castle or something as small as a computer keyboard. In both cases, new life can spring forth in the most remarkable of ways.

40. Lighthouse on the sand

As illustrated by an array of artwork over the years, lighthouses can be fascinating and whimsical structures for many people. And if you ever find yourself along the Danish coast, there’s one in particular that’s bound to capture your imagination. The Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse is a weird thing to behold, a tower that appears to be standing alone in the middle of a desert. This dreamlike effect is actually down to gusts blowing in from the North Sea and smothering the lighthouse in sand.

39. The boat garden

In the waters of Hoembush Bay at the edge of Sydney, Australia, a group of long-forsaken ships can be seen rusting away. One of these, though, has really taken on a life of its own. The S.S. Ayrfield once served as a cargo vessel, but since being abandoned it’s become the home of a miniature forest on the water.

38. The treehouse

If you’re in the market for a house that offers a nice supply of fresh, clean air flowing through its rooms, then maybe you should consider a move to North Carolina. Here, in Cumberland County, there’s an old residence that appears to have an entire forest contained within its walls. It doesn’t get much greener than that.

37. A link in the chain


If some object or structure stands in the way of a developing tree, then sometimes the course of that tree’s growth can be affected. Here, for example, we can see one that’s grown from the ground of a deserted New Zealand mine. Due to the presence of a thick chain, the tree’s shape has been altered. You might even say that it looks as if the chain’s been absorbed into the trunk.

36. Rusty life

If nothing else, this picture illustrates the incredible capacity for life to find a way to flourish, even in the most seemingly barren of environments. Here, we can see that something as artificial as rusty old scrap metal can support bright and colorful moss. Once you leave nature to do its thing, it seems, it’ll prosper.

35. Forest castle


This castle situated in the mid-west of France is a very special place. With a topsy-turvy history stretching back generations, the Château de la Mothe Chandeniers finally went up in flames in the early 1930s. While the external walls remained standing, the castle was ultimately left uninhabited in the wake of the fire. This allowed nature to get a grip on the property, leading to a forest springing up right within its walls.

34. Square roots

Trees in urban centers have a contrasting life to those found in forests. The conditions of cities are vastly different, of course, meaning that sometimes plant life has to adapt in strange ways. Such as, for instance, how the roots of this tree have been forced to develop within the crevices of the pavement beneath it.

33. The Hermitage


Situated in the Tollymore Forest of Ireland, this odd little structure is known as the Hermitage. It was constructed along the edge of a water-filled canyon in the 1770s, originally as a place for affluent women to observe their male counterparts as they went fishing. That was a long time ago, of course, and now the forest has claimed the place as its own.

32. Have a handle on it

A shovel can be a useful tool for planting seeds in the ground. But who would’ve thought that the object itself could prove to be a suitable site for a plant to grow? Well, as strange an idea as it is, here we can see what looks like lemon clover sprouting in the handle.

31. Keep on truckin’


It seems that nothing was ever going to get in the way of this tree from growing tall – even if that thing was a truck. The location is Bladen County, North Carolina. Perhaps there’s something in the water there that encourages trees to be stubborn enough to grow through trucks?

30. Under the sea

In October 1941, right in the midst of World War Two, the British vessel known as the S.S. Thistlegorm was attacked by German aircraft. The ship was sent to the seabed, where it’s since been claimed by the organisms of the deep. Fish weave their way in and out of the wreckage and coral’s attached itself to the craft and its contents. But the motorcycle that was aboard is, perhaps, the most striking thing about the wreck.

29. Wild factory


One can imagine that this old factory wasn’t quite so green and vibrant back when it was full of workers. But years of abandonment have allowed nature to creep into the building and leave its mark. Now, the facility is sprouting leaves and moss all over the place.

28. Reincarnation

Tree stumps can be a somewhat somber sight, a reminder of what was once a tall and living thing. But here, the situation isn’t quite so forlorn. A new plant is shooting up through the remains of the old one, almost as if the felled tree has been reincarnated in some way.

27. Through the cracks


Have you ever tried to imagine what the urbanized world might look like in a reality where human beings had disappeared? Maybe it’d resemble this old parking lot after a few years. Located somewhere in Chicago, the area shows us how plant life can engulf concrete spaces when left untouched by people.

26. Green transportation

With leaves shaped like hearts, this vividly green plant that’s attempting to swallow up a bike appears to be bindweed. Many gardeners will know all about that dreaded species, as it can be extremely problematic if it’s allowed to thrive. Bindweed is known to attach itself around other plants in a garden, damaging them in the process. And who knows? Maybe it’s strong enough to destroy a bike frame, too?

25. Green keys


Garden cress is known to sprout up very rapidly, developing in a matter of weeks after being planted. And if this photograph’s anything to go by, we can say that the herb isn’t particularly fussy about where it flourishes. Apparently it’ll even spring out of the grooves in a keyboard.

24. That escalated quickly

Is there anything more indicative of urbanization than the escalator? After all, you tend not to see motorized staircases in the countryside. But if you leave an escalator to languish alone, over time nature may well creep in to claim it. In this photo, the plant life overwhelms the steps to such an extent that they almost appear to be natural formations.

23. Three stories high


In the first Jurassic Park movie, Jeff Goldblum’s character Dr. Ian Malcolm utters the iconic phrase, “Life, uh, finds a way.” He was, of course, talking about genetically engineered dinosaurs managing to reproduce, but the quote itself is profound in broad terms as well. And this tree somehow growing out of a wall on the third story of a building pretty much encapsulates it.

22. Erupting into life

This pretty and colorful plant stands in stark contrast to the charred and black landscape around it. Known as the Metrosideros polymorpha, the shrub managed to grow out of the cool, hardened lava of Mount Kilauea. This Hawaiian landform is said to be among the most volcanically active spots on Earth today.

21. The Tunnel of Love


Not far from the Ukrainian metropolis Klevan, a whimsical spot’s been attracting lovebirds. A train regularly passes through the trees, which has inadvertently created a sort of natural shaft. It’s quite a romantic sight, so couples are fond of walking through the area. And that’s why it’s acquired the title Tunnel of Love.

20. The inventor’s workshop

Thomas Willson was a prominent inventor of the late 19th century, but he was also a somewhat reclusive fellow. Apparently, in order to protect his concepts from rivals, he had this workshop constructed in the middle of a forest in Québec, Canada. Unfortunately for him, though, he eventually ran out of money and the lab was left to be taken over by the trees.

19. A green footprint


With a biological history stretching back hundreds of millions of years, it’s fair to say that moss tends to find a way to thrive. And if something happens to impede its path, the plant’s liable to simply grow over it anyway. Even if that thing happens to be a shoe.

18. The forest amusement park

Since closing down back in the early 2000s, Berlin’s Spreepark has taken on a particularly eerie quality. Having once been a thriving amusement park filled with thousands of people, the site’s since slipped into a state of disarray. Plants have sprung up throughout the complex and are now beginning to conceal its past life.

17. The Buddha tree


At the Buddhist temple of Wat Mahathat in the Thai region of Ayutthaya, a stone carving of the Buddha has become consumed by the roots of a tree. Apparently, this happened at a point in the building’s history when it was deserted. Now, though, the place welcomes visitors, who’ll be lucky enough to lay eyes on this sculpture.

16. Amazeball

We’ve seen that life can spring up in the most unlikely of places, but this is truly remarkable. It really is a wonder how this plant managed to sprout on a tennis ball, though a redditor’s offered a theory. They wrote, “[The] seed could have germinated in the water, while floating around and the root may have got caught on the ball and it stuck. Or the seed stuck to the ball when it rolled through the grass and germinated after the ball fell into the pool.”

15. Hold the phone


As its name suggests, Washington State’s Hoh Rain Forest sees a particularly high level of rainfall each year. Consequently, the area’s a vivid and vibrant place that’s full of life. Greenery covers almost every inch of the region – and that goes for this old phone box, too.

14. The fish mall

If you managed to sneak into this long-deserted mall in the Thai capital of Bangkok, you’d be in for something of a shock. The place is flooded nowadays, meaning that mosquitoes are liable to thrive there. So, it was decided to introduce fish to feed on the bugs, and the building’s now full of the aquatic creatures.

13. Through the looking glass


It’s a bizarre sight, but it seems as if this car headlight has managed to support its very own ecosystem. It looks like a miniature world in its own right, with little green plants sprouting up behind the glass. There really is just no stopping some forms of life from thriving.

12. Climbing high

Ferns are versatile little plants, capable of growing in plenty of different environments. While they’re perhaps most commonly seen in saturated woodland, you can also spot them growing in the cracks of rocks. Or, as in this case, they might spring forth from the gaps between the bricks of a chimney.

11. The hungry tree


As it develops, the tissue of a plant’s able to grow around certain objects that stand in its path. Here, for instance, a tree’s managed to flourish despite the proximity of a bridge’s railing. And as a visitor noted, it looks like the tree’s eating this bar – especially when you add those googly eyes to the mix.

10. Sandy ghost town

At the start of the 20th century, the Namibian desert town of Kolmanskop was the site of a diamond mine. Within 50 or so years, though, the supplies of the gemstone had been depleted, meaning that those who’d once lived here moved away. Kolmanskop, then, was abandoned to the elements and swallowed up by the sands of the desert.

9. Through the roof


Ardtully House in the southwest of Ireland has a long and intriguing history. The land upon which it stands has been used for a variety of purposes over the centuries, but the building we can see today was raised in the mid-19th century. For 74 years this grand house stood undisturbed, but in the early 1920s a fire destroyed much of its interior. The building was consequently left as it was, meaning that a mini forest has sprung up within its walls.

8. The car graveyard

There’s something striking about a collection of cars being left to rot deep inside a quiet forest. With headlights and wheels missing and plant life growing all around the vehicles, it’s a pretty peculiar sight to behold. And frankly, aside from anything else, it just looks plain creepy.

7. Rooting around


Few places on Earth better illustrate what happens when you leave nature to reclaim man-made structures than the Cambodian temple of Ta Prohm. Situated amid the Angkor Archeological Park, the building’s become engulfed by the thick, extensive roots of the area’s trees. Basically, it’s a site that’s very much alive.

6. Embrace of the kudzu

With nicknames such as “the vine that ate the South” and “mile-a-minute,” the kudzu plant has quite the reputation. Having originated from Asia, the kudzu eventually made it to America’s southeast, where its ability to develop swiftly led to it overwhelming parts of the region. The kudzu will cover absolutely anything within its vicinity if left to its own devices.

5. The wild hotel


For a time, the Royal Hotel on the island of Hachijo was hugely popular among Japanese people vacationing within their own country. But as more and more of the population began to go overseas for trips, the hotel welcomed ever-smaller numbers of visitors. It eventually went out of business during the mid-2000s, which meant that the building was invaded by all sorts of plant life.

4. The rabbit factory

In the Sea of Japan, a small speck of land called Okunoshima has become overrun by rabbits. This island was once the site of chemical weapons experiments, and rumor has it that the furry creatures were cruelly subjected to them. But some survived and started to breed like, well, rabbits, with plenty of the animals taking up residence in the deserted weapons facility.

3. The green line


If you ever find yourself in the Taipingshan National Forest of northeastern Taiwan, make sure to book a journey on the so-called Bong Bong train. This zips through the lush woodlands upon a mossy green track, making for a unique way to experience the forest.

2. Tree in the hood

Not to be too pessimistic, but it doesn’t seem likely that this car’s ever going to get going again. Nature, after all, has most definitely claimed the vehicle for itself. An entire tree towers over the hood, seemingly having cut right through the vehicle with ease.

1. The tree that ate a bike


Vashon Island, Washington, is home to an unusual attraction. Here, it seems that a tree has swallowed up a child’s bike, which is a pretty strange thing to see. The tree and its bicycle have inspired countless stories to account for what happened, but the truth, it seems, remains hard to pin down.