el Arbol del Tule

Following our visit to Monte Alban, we continued to our next destination and I remember thinking how nice it was to go tourist sightseeing on Christmas Eve.  Everywhere we went in Oaxaca we ran into Mexican people from this state, from other parts of Mexico and travelers from all around the world and everyone was so friendly and warm and it made for a wonderful holiday.

Our next destination was – according to our tour books – the “World’s largest biomass.”  The Arbol (tree) del Tule (of Tule & pronounced too-lee) is supposed to be the largest tree in the world by weight.  Some of the Giant Redwoods and Sequoias in California are taller, but for sheer gross mass, this is the world’s largest.  Probably the largest living thing in the world is the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, but that is actually a colony of millions of different animals and plants.  The tree at Tule is a single organism.

When we parked in the tourist lot in Tule we could immediately see the Tule Tree (top photo).  It was indeed massive and towered over the cathedral that was built next to it.  It is a Bald Cypress tree and there are a few other specimens around Mexico and some other varieties in other parts of North America and the Mediterranean.  Unfortunately, due to a shrinking water supply and lower humidity, the Bald Cypress trees are failing.  Even the Arbol del Tule has suffered since the 1950′s and its lower branches are drying and cracking.  Its size is massive indeed; it is 40 meters (130′) tall and the base of its branches and leaves covers the size of two tennis courts.  Its circumference is about 60 meters (200′) and is believed to be between 600 and 1,000 years old.  Its roots allow it to pull water from depths of more than 100 meters (300′) but due to the ever decreasing water table in Tule (and Oaxaca in general), the tree’s survival in the  future is in doubt.

… the base of trunk is wide enough that 17 men with arms outstretched can barely reach around it…


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