Friday, February 4, 2011

Trees With Names

Chapman's Baobab

Some trees are important enough to have names. I don’t mean their biological species names like quercus rubra for red oak, or acer rubrum for red maple. I mean real names given to them mostly out of reverence and respect. A few posts back, I mentioned Herbie the oldest elm in New England. During my research I found out there are many more important elm trees. Just look up “elm” on Wikipedia. There was the Metaxades Elm of Greece, the Biscarrosse Elm of France, and “Elmo” the beloved elm on the campus of Brown University. All were old and historical in some way. All succumbed to the dreaded Dutch Elm Disease.

Of course there were also many famous oak trees throughout history, such as the Royal Oak in Britain and the Charter Oak in the United States. There were at least 3 different Treaty Oaks in USA history. Wikipedia even has a listing for individual oak trees which lists 44 famous oak trees by name.
Biscarrosse Elm

In the evergreen category, there are a few superlative trees with names. There is General Sherman, a giant sequoia, which is the largest tree by volume in the world; and Hyperion, a coastal redwood, which is the tallest tree in the world at 379 feet. In Africa, several baobab trees, such as the Chapman’s Baobab, compete for record girth and age. All these trees are on a great blog site called Ten Thousand Trees.

General Sherman

One of my favorite named trees is the Gernikako Arbola in Basque Country, Spain. It remains a strong symbol of freedom for the Basque people. It is shown on the Basque Country coat of arms, and is the title of a song which has become the Basque anthem. It is located in Guernica and survived the terrible bombing of that city by the Nazis in 1937. After the bombing, volunteers formed an armed guard around the tree to protect it against the Falangists, who wanted to destroy it because they knew what a powerful symbol it was to the Basques. The current tree is the “great grandson” of the original old oak planted in the 14th century, each generation grown from an acorn of the prior tree.
Gernikako Arbola
Yes, these old trees with names are revered and respected. Perhaps we should give every old tree in Sherwood Forest a name. That way they might not be cut down for commercial lumber or developed into golf resorts as is being considered by the new government of Great Britan as part of their budget austerity program. But that's a story for another day.


Anonymous said...

What about the Liberty Tree? is there really a tree in Boston somewhere? I remember it from those old disney movies. Ragarding the guernica tree, what do they do with the old one when they replace it? reverntly chop it down? do they dig up the root system to replace it with the next generation in the same spot? and the next gen is what, a sapling? or is it already 20 yrs old and can you transplant a tree that big? much to think about.

John M. Casteline said...

Click on the link or go to Google and find out. The father of the tree you see in the picture is now a dead stump about 10 feet tall which is protected regally under a columned dome.