The legend tells that 1,400 years ago, Pechocha a Zapotec priest that served the god Ehectatl, the Aztec god of wind and storm, planted a big group of trees for the benefit of the locals in the small town of Santa Maria del Tule, Oaxaca. Thanks to that, the mitical the ahuehuete “Graybeard of the swamp” known as the tree of Tule was born.
This enormous monster, with it’s 46.1 ft of diameter, becomes the world’s thickest tree. It has 137.8 ft of circumference(you need thirty people with extended arms to go around it), this means that although it’s hight is 116 ft, nothing impressive, the total weight of this massive giant becomes 636 tons! enough shadow for 500 people!
For decades it was believed that the tree was in fact several trees, it was based on the weird of the shape it took with the years, an X when looked from the sky. But DNA test discredit this. Another ancient legend spoke on how the leaders of four nations of each cardinal point reunited and planted an ahuehuete, the giant one pointing in the directions of their kingdoms and forming one. The once holy place got taken over by the church, who recognizes the validity of the legends.
Right now, the place was turned into a tourist attraction, with local kids learning fluid English so they can teach about the beauty they know. The tree means so much to the town that every second Monday of every October, the tree of Tule day is celebrated. In that day all the town gets together and memorialise the day with “toritos” big castles built with fireworks, while talking about the strange volumes that form a lion, an elephant and a crocodile in the surface of the tree.
Trees are the lungs of the world, their amount is estimated to be of 3.04 trillion, this number is sadly, and slowly decreasing, even the tree of Tule has a great risk of death, the XIX century being it’s darkest point, with a water shortage that almost killed it in its entirity. Now, a few years ago some said it wouldn’t live more than 50 years, but thanks to the recognition of UNESCO and it’s world heritage recognition of the world’s
thickest tree, there are several necessary actions being done right now to help assure the survival of this beautiful and unique tree.
The principal action was to divert the traffic that was damaging the air of the place, the town changed the course of their main road, another action was to widen the park of the tree of Tule, now with more paths and flowerbeds in it. This are big things done for the tree, but none are sufficient. In 1996 the tree was cleansed by cutting dry wood, gathering 10 tons of it, and in 2011 a Spanish company did a study in which they noted several structural problems inside the tree, and what to do in favour of it.
In the end, it’s up to us to do something for our green friends, and like the Zapotecs, leave something that lives more than any of us.