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Famous Trees in History, Religion and Myth

“I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree” (Joyce Kilmer). Truly, trees are truly lovely and provide many benefits for mankind such as shelter, food, firewood, medicinal purposes, conservation/environmental protection (soil & water), etc. Let's take a pleasant tour to the some of the famous trees that have played a role in history, religion and myths.

Glastonbury Thorn

According to tradition, the Glastonbury Thorn was reputed to have been planted by Joseph of Arimathea. Unfortunately, the original hawthorn tree, which stood in an abbey of a small town in Somerset, England, was chopped and burned as a relic of superstition during the English Civil War by Cromwellian armies.

Yggdrasil

This world tree is a gigantic ash tree that links and shelters all the worlds in Norse mythological cosmology. Odin, the chief god, hung on this tree for 9 days pierced by his own spear in order to learn 9 magical songs and 18 runes. Yggdrasil literally means "The terrible one's steed".

General Sherman Tree

(Looking up from the base of the tree) Image source

Named by the National Park Service in honor of an American Civil War general, this giant sequoia, which is located in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park in California, United States, is the world's largest tree, and generally considered as the world's largest living thing based on its trunk volume (1,487 cubic meters as of 2002).

Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

This biblical tree, which was situated in the middle of the Garden of Eden, was the tree, which fruits God specifically forbade Adam and Eve to partake. However, after being tempted by a serpent, Adam and Eve ate of its fruits and were banished by God from the garden to prevent them from taking the fruit of the other tree, the Tree of Life, which gives immortality.

Bodhi Tree

(The Mahabodhi Tree at the Sri Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya) Image source

Under this large and old specimen of the sacred fig tree located at Marabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya in the Indian state of Bihar, was where Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism, meditated and achieved nirvana.

Liberty Tree

This famous elm tree stood in the commons of Boston, Massachusetts Colony, in the days before the American Revolution. It was a rallying point for the growing resistance to England's rule over the American colonies.

Guilty Chinese Scholartree

Located in Jingshan Park, this pagoda tree was where the last Ming emperor Chongzhen hanged himself after a group of peasants successfully stormed the Forbidden City in 1644. The tree was uprooted during the Cultural Revolution but was later replaced with a replica.

Fortingall Yew

Image source

The Fortingall Yew is estimated to be between 3,000 and 5,000 years old, making it the oldest recorded tree in Europe, probably rivaling the 4,600-year-old bristlecone pines of California. It was named after the village where it stands at a churchyard in Perthshire, Scotland.

Stratosphere Giant

Located in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park in California, this Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) is the world's tallest tree, standing almost 113 meters or 370 feet as of 2004.

Gloucester Tree

The Gloucester tree is Western Australia's most famous Karri tree, which, at 61 meters, is the world's tallest fire lookout tree. Visitors can climb up to an aluminum platform in its upper branches for a spectacular view of the surrounding karri forest.

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Comments (2)
Ranked #85 in History

Many people assume the tree of knowlege was an apple, others have said it was a fig, or even a mushroom!

Great article Eddie. I know the Glastonbury thorn well, and was in the town on the day vandals? (possibly anti-Christians) hacked off its branches. The thorn was grown from cuttings after the original was cut down earlier in history as you described.

People loved the tree and were crying in the street to hear the sad news. I even well up thinking about it! Luckily, other cuttings were taken previously and relatives of the thorn survive, and new cuttings were taken from the hacked branches to regrow.

The stump left of the thorn attmpted to recover and sent forth new growth, but vandals spolit it again after a newspaper let the news out that it was regrowing. How sad :( Hopefully the new cuttings will take, and perhaps grafting will take place too.

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