Eyes of Green

Eyes of Green

21 Trees That Bear Witness to History
Adam Węgłowski
time 9 minutes

If trees could talk… they’d tell of the miracles and catastrophes that have taken place beneath their boughs.

Pinocchio’s Oak

In a park near Capannori in Tuscany there’s a 600-year-old tree that’s a monument not only to history, but also to literature. It was under this 24-metre oak that Carlo Collodi wrote several chapters of The Adventures of Pinocchio. The tree was the inspiration for several specific scenes. It was near the Big Oak in the story that Pinocchio met the Fox and the Cat. He was also hung from its branches by the robbers. But what’s interesting is that today the tree is known in the area not as Pinocchio’s Oak, but as the Witches’ Oak. Supposedly witches used to meet by it and dance wildly among its branches, giving them their incredible shapes.

Illustration by Cyryl Lechowicz

Caesar’s Yew

Under this tree in the historic Belgian town of Lo, Julius Caesar himself is said to have taken a snooze more than 2000 years ago, in a break between conquests. Researchers say a road ran nearby during Roman times. The yew itself may also be equally ancient. And while there really isn’t any evidence that Caesar was ever here, the yew has never denied it.


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Also read:

Seeing Green
illustration by Francisco Manuel Blanco (O.S.A.), public domain

Seeing Green

Klaudia Khan

Olivia Vandergriff, a protagonist of Richard Powers’s The Overstory, spends a semester living in a house in front of which grows a tree—“a living fossil, one of the oldest, strangest things that ever learned the secret of wood.” Yet Olivia doesn’t even know that the tree is there. Though she passes by it every day, she fails to notice its existence. The tree—unnamed in the novel—is the gingko biloba. And Olivia’s condition—undiagnosed in the chapter—is plant awareness disparity. 

The ginkgo biloba, a sole survivor of an ancient group of trees that used to cover the earth, is now an endangered species. Meanwhile, plant awareness disparity (PAD)—which was previously known as plant blindness but renamed to avoid ableism—contributes largely to the widespread indifference to the threat of botanical extinction and a limited interest in plant conservation. PAD on a global scale is dangerous, but on a personal level, it is detrimental as it impoverishes our experience of the surrounding world. So much beauty, so much drama, so much wisdom we miss out on if we fail to connect with plants.  

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