An enigmatic 400-year-old Cantabrian oak aspires to be the best tree in Spain

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Colindres (Cantabria), November 12 (EFE).- An approximately 400-year-old leafy holm oak, located in the San Roque district of Colindres (Cantabria), aspires to become the best tree in Spain due to its enigmatic history full of symbology, being erected at the foot of an ancient Camino Real and surviving, over time, massive deforestation.

A 1778 portrait, retrieved from a National Historical Archives document in which the singular oak tree and accompanying hermitage are named, was the starting point for cataloging a tree that has seen kings, diseases or festivals and treasures in its roots the secrets of an entire region.

“We were struck by the representation of its size on the map because, for some unknown reason, it was taller than all the houses and the rest of the trees,” education and education adviser Colindres told EFE. environment, Yolanda.

Mount La Redonda, where this tree of the Fagaceae family is found, was once a dense forest crossed by one of the most important routes of the Middle Ages because it was traveled by the merchants who, from Castile, moved their products to the Gulf of Gascony. to ship them to northern European countries.

According to the chronicles, kings and queens also used it during their state trips, such as Juana de Castilla who, accompanied by her mother, Queen Isabella the Catholic, took this route to Flanders to marry Felipe de Habsburgo, as well as Carlos V in reverse in search of his retreat to the monastery of Yuste.

Already in the 18th century, at the height of the royal shipyards of Falgote, the forests of Colindres and its surroundings were razed to use the wood in the construction of the galleons intended for the Royal Navy and the Carrera de Indias, although this tree, by chance or superstition, was the only one left standing.

Today, from solitude and while waiting for projects to reclaim the landscape in the mountains to once again display the green coat of the past, the holm oak of San Roque welcomes all walkers from its height of 16 meters.

She is also the subject of tributes on World Environment Day and legends of her survival through adversity are told to children so that her memory will live on among the natives.

Because of this bond with a community and a territory, it was chosen as a candidate for the contest for the best tree in Spain in 2023 promoted by the NGO Bosques sin Fronteras, considering it to be an important asset of the natural and cultural heritage. that must be appreciated and protected.

In addition to the Colindres oak, the public will be able to vote online for eight other selected specimens from Biar (Valencian Community), Boqueixón (A Coruña), Vilaflor de Chasna (Santa Cruz de Tenerife), Pontevedra, Villoviado (Burgos), El Rasillo (La Rioja), Los Santos (Salamanca) and Cornellana (Asturias).

The winner of the competition, which does not reward the beauty, size or age of the trees, but rather the history and its relationship with people, will represent Spain in the European “Tree of the Year” competition of the next year.

Michael Ramos

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