Sunday, July 26, 2020

European Tree of the Year 2020, Part 1

I have previously written about the annual European Tree of the Year.  If you want to have a look at those past posts, click on the following links:

Winners 2011-2018:

Nominees 2019, Part 1:

Nominees 2019, Part 2:

The winners of the 2020 Tree of the Year were announced in May, This was the tenth anniversary of the sear5ch for trees with the most interesting stories.  According to Tree Hunter Rob McBride: “Old trees are the last traces of a vanished landscape. They are thus often the only living witnesses of our common European history.”

Here are the 16 finalists, counting down to 3rd, 2nd and 1st places, text and photos from the TOTY website at:

Name of tree:  Oak Vallonea of Tricase

Species:  Vallanea Oak
Age:  700 years
Region:  Tricase, Puglia, Italy 
Votes:  10,730 
Position:  16th

A place of dreaming
The Vallonea Oak of Tricase is the oldest tree of its species in Salento, with an age of 700 years and a crown of 700 square metres. Candidate to become an UNESCO site, in 2000 the WWF elected it the Apulian symbol tree. In many legends, it is thought to be the "Oak of the hundred knights" because it is said that Frederick II met his army under it. For centuries it has contributed to the development of the local economy and is still a very important point of reference for its people, under the thoughtful care of its owner and local community.


Name of tree:  The Tree of Freedom

Species:  Horse-Chestnut
Age:  223 years
Region:  Waret-La-Chaussee, Wallonia, Belgium
Votes:  10,942
Position:  15th

The Tree of Freedom of the Waret citizens, a symbol of the defence of our rural character
A tree is a true symbol of liberty. Liberty is rooted in the heart of the people like a tree thrusts its roots into the heart of the earth. The horse chestnut tree of the Waret citizens symbolises the defence of their rural character. It was planted in 1796 as ordered by the executive Directory of the Canton of Eghezée to celebrate the fall of the "tyrant" Louis XVI. In 1807 a stone niche was erected at its foot endowing it with a sacred character and an aura of tranquility.


Name of tree:  The Venerable Oak in Novo Selo Village

Species:  Common Oak
Age:  About 500 years
Region:  Village of Novo Selo, Veliko Tarnovo Municipality, Bulgaria
Votes:  11,191
Position:  14th

The Venerable Oak - a memory and symbol of Novo Selo village
The five-century-old oak, which is nowadays in the centre of the village, has been a silent witness to the building of the new settlement on the Balkans mountainside. The village of Novo selo appeared at the site of a former thick oak forest and swamps. The oak’s bark has kept and carried through the centuries the story of this village, built in 1750. In 2010, for the celebrations of its 260th anniversary, the local people planted a small oak near the old tree. They wanted to ensure that the “old man” - while still alive – will hand down the story of Novo selo to its younger heir. Oh, if only the oak could tell its story today…

Name of tree:  Witch’s Yew Tree

Species:  Yew
Age:  600 years
Region:  Blarney, Cork, Ireland
Votes:  11,372
Position:  13th

An ancient tree with a legendary story
The ancient Witch’s Yew Tree, situated in the Mythical Rock Close on the grounds of Blarney Castle Estate in Southern Ireland, has been estimated by experts to be in excess of 600 years old. This majestic and awe-inspiring specimen sits atop a natural outcrop of limestone rock, that houses the Witch's Kitchen, an 18th century folly that's said to be home of the Blarney Witch who first told mortals of the Blarney Stone’s magic powers and its ability to grant the gift of eloquence.


Name of tree:  Elderberry Tree

Species:  Elderberry
Age:  200 years
Region:  Rzeszow. Podkarpackie Province, Poland
Votes:  11,691
Position:  12th

Magic of nature
Sometimes there are peculiar things in our world. One of them is the 200-year-old elderberry tree growing in the center of Rzeszów. Usually elder is a shrub, so its tree-like form is a unique phenomenon. Centuries ago elderberry was considered by the Slavonic and Germanic nations as a sacred gift of nature. Even though our relationship with nature is no longer as strong as it used to be, residents spent a long time fighting to protect and preserve the beauty of this unusual tree.

Name of tree:  The Multisecular Beech of Saint-Jammes

Species:  European Beech
Age:  450 years
Region:  Soreze, Occitania Region, South of France
Votes:  12,192
Position:  11th

The heritage tree of the Black Mountain
I am a colossal beech with a sculptural trunk, watching the ruins of the pre-Romanesque chapel of St-Jammes. At 450 years old I am the oldest tree in the Black Mountain having survived strong local winds and the French Revolution. I have seen many animals, pilgrims and hikers stopping by, and still am the place of an ancestral fertility rite. Leaning on my cane and facing the local History of this mountain, I have fascinated people locally and nationally by my presence, my aura of legends, my resilience and my vitality.


Name of tree:  Precious Sorb Tree

Species:  Sorb Tree
Age:  250 years
Region:  Uzovska Panica, District Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia
Votes:  13,582
Position:  10th

Living memory
This precious Sorb Tree was planted during the reign of Maria Theresia. Because of its robustness people used it as a boundary tree between the villages. The tree still bears large pink-yellow pear-shaped fruits. Sorbs are mysterious and rare in this region of Slovakia. Nowadays, a lone tree is just a memory of the former prosperous period of fruit growing in the region. Therefore it is a challenge for future generations to save existing precious trees and discover more that have been almost forgotten.

Name of tree:  The Three-Legged Spanish Oak

Species:  Holm Oak
Age:  1200 years
Region:  Mendoza, Navarra, Spain
Votes:  14,456
Position:  9th

The oldest three-legged oak in the world
This oak is estimated at an approximate age of 1,200 years, which almost certainly makes it one of the oldest oaks in all of the Iberian Peninsula. It is also an emblem for Mendaza's neighbours. Its spectacular shape with a trunk that is completely hollow on the inside and supported only on three large legs, makes it very popular and the greatest landmark for all of the town's inhabitants. Many treat the tree much like a neighbour, making weekly trips up the mountain to “greet” him and ask questions as he is the oldest living thing in the town.

Name of tree:  The Jerusalem Tree

Species:  Unknown
Age: 2000 years
Region:  Glastonbury, England
Votes:  14,459
Position:  8th

Blake’s inspiration
William Blake’s poem “Jerusalem”, later turned into a hymn, is based on the apocryphal story that Jesus travelled to England and visited Glastonbury during the unknown years.  This is the tree upon which Blake based the first draft of the first stanza of his poem:
And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains green:
And did the holy Lamb of God,
Against a very big tree lean!

This was later changed to:
And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England’s pleasant pastures seen!

Nahh, just messing with you, that’s the tree at the front of my house.

Sorry about the quality of the pic, I had to take a pic off the screen from Google street view.

Trees 8 - 1 still to come.

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