The Tree of Tule

Common name Montezuma bald cypress
Botanical name Taxodium mucronatum
Family Cupressaceae
Natural range Mexico
Mature height 30-40m
Form Multi-trunked, untidy habit
Likes Drought-tolerant, but likes marshy ground
Dislikes Nothing! This tree loves everything
Where to plant Somewhere in Mexico
Known for Fattest tree in the world!

The Arbol del Tule: An Immortal of the Cypress Clan

Greetings from a garden enthusiast and a tree connoisseur! While sequoias and redwoods steal the limelight for their towering heights, let’s journey to Mexico and explore the Montezuma Cypress – an arboreal titan known for its girth, rather than its height.

An Enigmatic Cypress Tells Its Tale

Known locally as ‘ahuehuete’, the Montezuma Cypress or Taxodium mucronatum from the Cupressaceae family is an emblem of national pride, standing as Mexico’s national tree. Nestled among these magnificent species, one particular tree – the Tree of Tule – stands out. Estimated to be between 1500 to 3000 years old, this ancient tree is a living testament to centuries of history.

Why is the Tree of Tule Unique?

Contrary to common belief, the Tree of Tule doesn’t flaunt its status with towering heights, but rather, with an extraordinary width! In 2005, this tree boasted a circumference of 42 meters, equating to a diameter of 14.05 meters. This measurement saw an increase from the 11.42-meter diameter recorded in 1982.

Does the Tree of Tule Cheat with Its Measurements?

Some might argue that the Tree of Tule’s impressive size comes from its heavily buttressed trunk, which gives a larger diameter reading than the true cross-section of the trunk. When this factor is taken into account, the diameter of the ‘smoothed out’ trunk stands at 9.38 meters. Still, it’s wider than the next-fattest tree, a Giant Sequoia with an 8.9-meter diameter in the USA. So, our Cypress here doesn’t cheat, but stands tall and wide with its true size!

Is the Tree of Tule the Tallest in Town?

Measuring the height of the Tree of Tule is a bit of a challenge due to its expansive crown. A 2005 laser measurement recorded a height of 35.4 meters, making it not just wide, but rather tall as well!

Where is the Center of Attention in Santa María del Tule?

Imagine a town that breathes and thrives around a tree! The Tree of Tule is such a celebrity that it overshadows even the town’s main church and its spires. From the crafts market to the town plaza, everything in Santa María del Tule seems to revolve around this massive Cypress. It’s truly a unique spectacle!

How Are Montezuma Cypresses Used?

The Montezuma Cypress isn’t just a showstopper, but a tree of great utility as well. It’s often cultivated in Mexican parks and gardens, and even across the USA. Its wood is favoured for making house beams and furniture, while the Aztecs traditionally used its resin to treat various health conditions like gout, ulcers, skin diseases, and toothaches.

The Ultimate Living Wonder: The Tree of Tule

So, there you have it – a thorough exploration of the Montezuma Cypress and its most famous member, the Tree of Tule. Its girth, history, and central role in the town of Santa María del Tule make this tree an extraordinary marvel of nature. Who would’ve thought that a tree could be such a captivating tour de force?

Further Reading:

  1. Mexico’s Tree of Tule – Atlas Obscura
  2. The Giant Trees of Mexico – Amusing Planet
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