Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway
The Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway opened to the public in 2008 on International Biodiversity Day. It was designed by Marks Barfield Architects, who also designed the London Eye.
Xstrata Treetop Walkway in autumn (Photo A. McRobb, RBGKew)
Did you know?
- The walkway’s structure is based on a Fibonacci numerical sequence, which is often present in nature’s growth patterns.
- The word ‘rhizotron’ derives from the Greek rhiza, which means 'root'.
- Deforestation releases the same amount of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as the whole of Europe’s fossil fuel burning.
- Seven million trees grow in London.
About the Treetop Walkway
A path lined with examples of different timbers leads visitors below ground to the Rhizotron. Inside, an installation explains the relationships that exist between tree roots, the soil and organisms such as nematodes, beetles, woodlice and bacteria. On the floor is a mosaic inspired by the mutually beneficial relationships that exist between many plant roots and fungi.
The 18-metre high, 200-metre walkway guides visitors around the crowns of lime, sweet chestnut and oak trees. Supported by rusted steel columns that blend in with the natural environment, it provides opportunities for inspecting birds, insects, lichen and fungi at close quarters, as well as seeing blossom emerging and seed pods bursting open.
Things to look out for
At the entrance to the Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway are sculptures carved from tree trunks. The carvings illustrate microscopic elements of trees, and help explain how trees grow. Visitors learn, for example, that leaves have breathing pores shaped like lips and that tubes called ‘phloem’ pump sap from leaves to fruits and roots.
- Can you find out how much carbon a 70-year-old tree releases to the environment when it dies?
- How much water does a large broad-leafed tree need to drink every hour on a hot summer afternoon?
- How many trees disappeared on 16 October 1987?
Rhizotron. The Rhizotron is fully wheelchair-accessible. You enter via a path on a gentle downwards slope with handrail, on a smooth surface. The exit path is an identical upward slope.
Xstrata Treetop Walkway: The Treetop Walkway is accessible to the public via a stairway consisting of 118 steps.
The Xstrata Treetop Walkway lift is in service and available for disabled and mobility impaired visitors. Visitors are encouraged to use the stairs where possible ensuring the lift remains available to those that need it most . Children’s pushchairs are not permitted on the walkway and children must be supervised at all times.
More details are available in the Kew Gardens Access Guide.
Further information about the Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway
For more information read our Frequently Asked Questions about the Xstrata Treetop Walkway.
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