Suitcase and World: Arbol del Tule.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Arbol del Tule.

O n our way way back from Mitla to Oaxaca, we stopped in the little town of Santa Maria del Tule. Why, you ask? To see a tree of course!. Not just any tree. The Tule tree. What's the Tule tree you ask? It's a very, very large cyprus tree and it's very impressive.

The Montezuma Cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) is Mexico's national tree. According to legend, Hernán Cortés cried beneath the boughs of a cypress after the Aztecs defeated the Spanish on La Noche Triste (The Sad Night).

Arbol del Tule.  The town of Santa Maria del Tule takes its name from the famous tree and boasts not just one, but seven extremely large and ancient cypress trees. The most famous of all of them is the Arbol del Tule (tree of Tule) which can be found the yard of the church of Santa María de la Asunción.

The stats.  The mighty tree in Santa Maria del Tule, which has a circumference of over 54 meters (164 feet), has often been cited as having the largest trunk circumference in the world. But, it has for long been thought that it might actually represent the fused trunks of several different individuals. However, recent study of DNA samples from the tree using random amplified polymorphic DNA indicates that it is in fact a single individual at its base making it the largest girth of any tree in the world.

The Arbol del Tule is thought to be about 2000 years old and it's still growing! The Arbol del Tule still growing. It's age is calculated in 2000 years, it's weight is almost 550 tons, a 705 cubic meters volume, diameter of 42 meters.

The burls and knots.  Its gnarled trunk and branches are filled with shapes that have been given names such as “the elephant” and “the pineapple”, the Three Kings", the deer". Francisco pointed out a knot, that if you looked at it from a side angle, looked like the head of a male lion.

The zoom lens on my camera does angle out quite wide but not wide enough fully capture this tree so Ayşe shot a couple of videos as she walked around the tree. As usual, her narration is in Turkish :-)

El Templo de Santa María de la Asunción.  After we had our fill of the Tule tree, we entered the church's courtyard which contained a fountain as well as a small but well manicured garden.  Whoever tends the garden here loves topiaries :-)

The church itself is a very modest as I would expect for a small countryside town.  I did love the bright blue and red colors on the exterior though....brings some pep to the look of the building.   Entering inside, you're greeted by statues of two altar boys. One holds up a sign asking for donations and the other holding up a sign telling you that flash photography is not allowed.  So much nicer than just an ordinary plaque.

The church's interior was small and adorned with a gold altar.  Of course, after the Chapilla del Rosario in Puebla, no church altar can come close in grandeur. 

Back outside, we didn't have much time to linger as we had to head back to Oaxaca where we still had places to go to before our day was over.

It was brief visit to Santa Maria del Tule and I have to say that I have seen a lot of things that are at least 2000 years old but it's a rare experience to get to see something that has been living 2000 years.  If onlyl that tree could talk.....oh the stories it could tell!  With all the environmental damage that man has done to earth, I hope the Arbol del Tule can survive for another 2000 years!

Off to Oaxaca!