July 04, 2017: Humans and animals have treated trees and plants with utmost sacredness and spirituality. Having played a huge part in the evolutionary success, trees have existed before the emergence of dinosaurs. Biblically, the ‘tree of knowledge’ and ‘the tree of life’ symbolize the close relationship between man and the plant. Gautam Buddha also meditated and attained Nirvana under a tree, along with many other spiritual people. Thus, it is important to know some of the most sacred and symbolic trees in the world today.
In the Californian Nevada Mountain range lives a plant called the Giant Sequoia, alternatively called the Sequoiadendron giganteum in the academics. It holds the record for being the largest as well as the longest tree in the world right now. These trees can live up to 3000 years! These trees are protected now, partially because the timber does not serve the human purpose very well.
The General Sherman, a popular Giant Sequoia, is the largest living tree and even more broadly the largest living organism in the world. The 2,100-year-old Sherman weighs a massive 2.7 billion pounds! Standing at 275 feet tall, its branches are 7 feet in diameter.
The Giant Sequoias are the third longest-lived tree species. These largest living residents of America are also known to have the thickest bark which also serves as a super-strong protection.
Interestingly, while forest fires lead to the death of trees, the Giant Sequoias actually thrive on it. The fire helps release the seed inside and leaves nutrient rich ash as a residue on which the saplings can prosper. They are also known to be immune to various diseases that otherwise kill plants.
The tree symbolizes wellness, safety, and longevity. The tree has seen a lot of the history.
Visitors to California often visit the Nevada Range to witness the Giant Sequoias. Theodore Roosevelt was left awestruck when he first stumbled upon the tree. In a famous 1903 Sacramento speech, he quoted,
“As regards some of the trees, I want them preserved because they are the only things of their kind in the world. Lying out at night under those giant Sequoias was lying in a temple built by no hand of man, a temple grander than any human architect could by any possibility build, and I hope for the preservation of the groves of giant trees simply because it would be a shame to our civilization to let them disappear. They are monuments in themselves”
Also known as Strangler Fig and Argad (in Hindi), it is one of the largest trees in India and also in the World. Banyan, less familiarly Nyagrodha, is indestructible due to its massive size and strength. The Great Banyan Tree in Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden (Kolkata) is the largest tree in India. It is over 260 years old! The Banyan’s roots can grow in rough and concrete floorings which further emerge out to connect with the branches, supporting their heavy weight. The Banyan has sacred value. The tree at Jyotisar is where Lord Krishna stood and delivered the sermon of the Bhagwat Gita. Other texts reveal the tree being referred to as a cosmic tree that brings blessings to humanity. The tree also has medicinal value. These reasons make Banyan the National Tree of the Country.
Here is a little extract on Banyan Tree by the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore,
“O you shaggy-headed Banyan tree standing on the bank of the pond,
And to float like those ducks among the weeds and shadows.”
Have you forgotten the little child,
Like the birds that have nested in your branches and left you?
Do you not remember how he sat at the window
And wondered at the tangle of your roots that plunged underground?
The women would come to fill their jars in the pond,
And your huge black shadow would wriggle
On the water like sleep struggling to wake up.”
Also known as the Sacred Fig and more popularly the “tree of enlightenment”, the Bodhi tree is perhaps one of the most symbolic trees. This tree in Bodhgaya is where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment and reached the point of Nirvana. Emperor Ashoka’s daughter Sanghamitta, in the 3rd century BC, brought a branch of the Bodhi tree to Sri Lanka. The planted tree in Anuradhapura still grows there today. The tree is thus holy to a lot of people. Buddha’s followers plan their pilgrimage. It was the symbol of Gautam Buddha during his lifetime.
The Baobab tree is sacred to the African Savanna and Madagascar region and is considered the “Africa’s Tree of Life”. It is considered a holy creation by the God almighty. It was also used to cure the villager’s cuts from crocodile attacks. The tree is excellent for the timber industry. The leaves of the tree can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable. It also has the ability to regenerate itself. It can take draughts and fire easily but falls prey to fungus. The fruits of the tree are rich in Vitamin C making it popular in the daily diet. Up to 80% of its trunk is water! It also boosts the immune system.
Major Oak Tree:
Voted England’s Tree of the Year 2014 lives in the Sherwood Forest Country Park, Nottingham. It was known as the Queen’s Oak in the whole of the 19th century. The 1000-year-old tree is the biggest oak tree in Britain. The Major Oak is also referred to in the story of Robin Hood. Robin Hood and his associates had taken shelter in the Oak when they were on the run from the Nottingham Sheriff. The fungi has caused the Oak to have a hollow interior. The mighty weight of the tree requires external supports to keep up its branches. On the acorn-gathering celebration held once a year, the tourists and fans get to hug the tree. The tree was named after Major Hayman Rooke.
– By Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394