To reach 30 metres in height, as some Senegalia burkei trees occasionally still get the opportunity to do, its lower structure has to meet requirements of design and strength over many years before its maturity. All achieved in the absence of tree engineers.
Once it achieves a great height, its crown is not only elevated above the ground, but also above or in the minds of people. In ancient times (which still come pretty close today, given the mentalities that are around), animism was rife. It is a phenomenon of people's thinking, according to which personalities with human and superhuman capabilities were attributed to inanimate objects, especially the unusual, also to the unusual tree.
George Meredith, 19th century English poet, spoke of enchanted woods where “thousand eyeballs under hoods have you by the hair”. S. burkei prickles grow in pairs below the nodes, hard and unyielding, hooked, almost black in colour and not to be messed with.
The best part of a post-modern world is the freedom to explore excitement on offer in nature without succumbing to group think or superstition. Communion with a tree is possible in adventurous ways outside the huggers’ church, if the mind lives.
Cutting down a tree is not a test of whether the tree has a soul; it tests whether the man holding the saw has one. Albert Schweitzer recommended cutting or damaging grass only when there was a valid purpose to do so.