Tree lore


In India, the Buddha gained enlightenment under a bodhi tree around 2,500 years ago. for a thousand years, pilgrims to the “Buddha Tree” used to pluck a leaf from it until the tree died; if you go to the Mahabodhi Temple of the Buddha in Bodh Gaya you can now pay your respects to the second propagation of that original bodhi tree .  Fun fact: the last souvenir leaf was picked off the original tree in 1235.

Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine (460 BCE – 370 BCE), taught under a plane tree in Greece — and that very same tree is still there. But it is surrounded by an iron fence, and is available for hugging once a year — and only to women. Superstition is that the tree will give women strength, long life, and WEIGHT.

In England there’s The Royal Oak, where Charles II hid to escape pursuit from Puritan revolutionaries. And of course there’s all those trees in Sherwood Forest where the Merry Men hid from the Sheriff of Nottingham.

In South Africa there is a 6,000 year old baobob tree with a trunk so large that it takes 40 people holding hands to surround the tree and give it a good hug. Inside the trunk, there is a BAR: it’s the world’s only living barroom.

Lennart Meri (1929 – 2006), the first president of Estonia, said that the thousand-year old trees that cover the countryside of his country are “proof that we [the Estonians] have been living here for 500 centuries. It has an effect on your way of thinking, and feeling. You have the same feelings as being married for 5000 years. ”  Now, that’s sweet.

Thank you for all your lovely stories about letters — it is an honor to read about your treasures and your memories of letters sent and received. Great stories.

Now I’m collecting your stories about tree hugging – there’s a lot about tree personalities that I have to learn, especially trees in the West and Northwest. If you can describe your favorite tree in three words (see above, illustration of al my tree buds) please please leave a comment so I can TAKE NOTES!

12 Comments, RSS

  1. completelycollaged October 9, 2009 @ 1:13 pm

    CottonWood- Summer Snow Tree

  2. Vivian October 9, 2009 @ 2:19 pm

    Wow — that’s so poetic! You must be a Cancer or a Picses. Or Aquarian. Or just good with words.

    I didn’t reaize that you can’t read the text on the tree illustration that I scanned in, so here’s my description of Cottonwood: Sensuous, Proud, Caring.

    Dogwood: Sentimental, Kind, Prim
    Maple: Flamboyant, Generous, Graceful
    Mulberry: Romantic, Mysterious, Philosophical
    Willow: Strong, Forgiving, Moody
    Oak: Patient, Regal, Jokester
    Evergreen: Spiritual, Loyal, clever
    Sycamore: Beautiful, Bold, Thoughtful
    Beech: Majestic, World-weary, Reliable

    When I sit under these trees, this is what I get from the quality of their shade; when I hug them, the same thing. If you know a great tree, I’d like to knew what personality you think it has.

    Trees do have personalities, right?

  3. Timaree (freebird) October 10, 2009 @ 12:26 am

    Eucalyptus – strong, fragrant, fluttery

    To read a page that can’t be enlarged, I just click on my magnifying glass in the lower right hand corner of my explorer window.

  4. admin October 10, 2009 @ 12:50 pm

    Aspen – tremulous, golden, musical

    One type of Aspen is even called “Quaking Aspen” because the leaves flutter in the slightest breeze and make the most wonderful sound when they twist and turn and hit each other. Makes you feel cooled just to hear it.

    We have few tall trees here in Santa Fe, so, the Cottonwood and Aspen are treasured. My garden is full of Quaking Aspen. Their sound and the sound of my fountains make my garden a spa for my soul. Oh, and did I mention the flowers?!


  5. Suzanne B October 10, 2009 @ 1:28 pm

    Coulter Pine – stoic, statuesque and sensitive

    I never knew about the Coulter Pine until I lived in CA. Have you even seen the pine cones off these trees? They should be registered as a lethal weapon Here is a pic –

    The cones are so heavy and huge – they have earned the nickname “widowmaker”

    The cones are like sculptures to me – I am always in awe of the structure and size of them.

    I describe the Coulter Pine with those three words because it is a large towering tree and I’d imagine it has a sensitive misunderstood soul because of the danger of it’s dropping pine cones to any human or animal underneath. Imagine the burden the tree could feel? If it could shout “watch out below” each time one fell, I think it would.

  6. Paula October 10, 2009 @ 6:28 pm

    Redwood- Majestic,wise,ancient

  7. Paula October 10, 2009 @ 6:36 pm

    I forgot to add:
    When you stand beneath a Redwood or sit at the base you can’t help but feel young, being held and protected by a gentle, wise, all knowing BEING.

  8. Barbara October 11, 2009 @ 12:54 pm

    Redwood—-tall, majestic, messy

  9. Mindy October 12, 2009 @ 1:16 pm

    I can’t describe this in three words, but in South Africa there are also ironwood trees that are very old. They are the only trees in the world whose wood is so heavy it won’t float. I was priviledged to eat dinner under one that was over 2000 years old. It was a humbling and awe inspiring experience.

    • Vivian October 12, 2009 @ 3:07 pm

      Wow! I can just imagine being in the shadow of the centuries, in the living history of that tree! I’ve never heard of Ironwood trees but I’m going to the library as soon as it opens tomorrow to check it out. Thanks for the tip!

  10. Deb October 12, 2009 @ 7:30 pm

    Hackberry — generous, tenacious, late-blooming

    Sassafras — fragrant, feisty, handy

  11. Casey October 19, 2009 @ 4:51 pm

    Ginko- Golden, Glorious Glowing

    In autumn, in Washington DC, the ginkos are truely golden, glorious and glowing. I pass several on my walk to work and in the morning sun they take my breath away! There are a pair that are quite large that are my favorites. I love seeing the sunlight streaming through their leaves. Ginkos are also much loved in Asia, especially Japan. Their leaves which are fan shaped can be seen in depicted in kimonos and laquered pieces.

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