Discover the Astonishing Tule Tree: Widest Trunk and Estimated Age of 6000 Years in Mexico

The tree with the largest trunk girth on earth.

The majestic Tree of Tule. Its incredible circumference leaves visitors in awe. Image credit: Travis S.

El Árbol del Tule, located in the town of Santa María del Tule in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, is a magnificent cypress tree with an impressive circumference of over 42 meters (137.8 ft), equating to a diameter of 14.05 m (46.1 ft). The height is more difficult to measure due to the very broad crown, but it is reported to be somewhere between 35 and 43 m (115–141 ft). The tree has been a source of wonder and fascination for both locals and tourists for many years, and it is considered to be one of the largest trees in the world.

While the tree’s incredible circumference secures its place in the record books, it’s twisted and knotty bark that sparks the imagination. Visitors have discovered resemblances of various creatures, such as human faces, lions, jaguars, elephants, and a myriad of other animals, etched into its bark.

Can you spot the elephant? Image credit: Bobak Ha’Eri

The tree is a Montezuma cypress (named after an Aztec Empire ruler), a magnificent evergreen tree species which boasts of impressive, massive trunks, spiral leaves, and drooping branches.

These spectacular trees usually thrive near water, even improve its quality. Due to this and the fact that it provides shelter from the sun, the Tree of Tule provides a conducive habitat for a wild variety of wildlife, including birds and insects, which make their homes in its branches and bark, and for which it is occasionally nicknamed the “Tree of Life.”

The tree is home to a wealth of wildlife. Image credit: Liliana Saeb

The history of El Árbol del Tule is believed to date back between 1,000 and 3,000 years, and it is said to have been planted by the Zapotec civilization, one of the earliest known Mesoamerican cultures.

According to local legend, the tree was planted by a priest who used it as a symbol of the connection between the earthly and spiritual worlds.

Notice how small people are on the left, compared to the tree. Image credit: Thelmadatter

The tree’s massive size led people to believe that it consisted of multiple trees, but DNA tests confirmed that it is a single individual.

This, however, does not rule out another theory, which suggests that it could be a single organism with multiple trunks.

Image credit: Mario Yair TS

El Árbol del Tule has survived many challenges over the centuries, including natural disasters and human activity. In 1990, reports surfaced that the tree was gradually withering away due to the destruction of its roots caused by water scarcity, pollution, and heavy traffic from a nearby highway, where around 8,000 cars pass by every day.

Today, scientists are still worried that the tree may be dying due to the effects of industrialization, even though local spiritual leaders suggest that it has endured similar periods of existential concerns throughout history and will likely survive this current phase of apocalyptic fixation.

The tree is located in the church grounds in the town center of Santa María del Tule, Mexico. Image credit: Gengiskanhg

In the 20th century, the Mexican government recognized the significance of El Árbol del Tule and declared it a protected natural monument. Today, visitors from all over the world come to see the tree and marvel at its immense size and beauty.

The town of Santa María del Tule has embraced the tree as a symbol of their heritage and culture. It is featured on the town’s coat of arms, and is the centerpiece of the annual Festival of the Tule Tree, which takes place every October. During the festival, locals gather around the tree to celebrate its history and significance with music, dance, and traditional foods.

Every year, locals gather around the tree to celebrate its history and significance. Image credit: Oscar García | Quadratín Oaxaca

Despite its age and size, as well as the effects of human activity, El Árbol del Tule continues to thrive and inspire wonder in all who see it. Its resilience and enduring beauty make it a true natural wonder and a testament to the power and majesty of the natural world.

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