Hundreds of Years Old Trees Saved and Replanted in India

Due to powerful winds and light showers earlier this week, 350- to 400-year-old Neem and Peepal trees at the Ukkadam Lakshminarashimar Temple in Coimbatore, India were uprooted. But thanks to a successful attempt by locals and government authorities the ancient trees have been replanted and live to see another day.

The tree’s recovery is credited to members of Siruthuli, – an NGO based in Coimbatore, India which works to rejuvenate the water sources in the city of Coimbatore –  the Forest Department, a large number of devotees and Tirupur Exporters Association – Exporters of cotton knitwear.

Uprooting of the tree is in part because of some construction work around the tree before the windstorm in which workers carelessly cut some roots of the tree, destabilizing it and making is susceptible to the gusty weather. Temple authorities were involved in constructing a pucca concrete structure i.e., sanctum sanctorum for the Vinayakar under the Peepal and Neem trees.

The centuries-old trees fell causing damage not only to themselves but surrounding shops and a few vehicles. Upon examination, Siruthuli realized that the trees could be saved and approached the Conservator of Forests in Coimbatore, Circle I. Anwardeen, who in turn asked District Forest Officer A. Periyasamy to send in a team led by Range Officers C. Dineshkumar and M. Senthilkumar for inspection and recovery.

Managing trustee of Siruthuli, Ms. Vanitha Mohan, gave The Hindu details on the re-plantation of the trees and the collective efforts of local bodies that brought the trees standing tall once more.

It took 30-odd hours to save the trees with the help of  two cranes, an earth mover, and 18 workers pressed into service. The devotees persisted in their recovery of their beloved tree with much enthusiasm during the long and difficult hours.

Locals now hope that the ensuing Monsoon season will bring life back once more to the shredded branches in the rainy weather.

What is Tu B’Shevat? The New Year for Trees

Tu B’Shevat is the 15th of the Jewish month of Shevat – Tu is the Hebrew number for 15. The holiday is commonly known as the ‘New Year for Trees.’ This year  it was celebrated on Monday, January 25, 2016; the date varies each year. In this season, trees in their early blooming days begin their fruit-bearing cycle in the Land of Israel and emerge from their winter sleep.

Tu B’Shevat serves a specific purpose of marking the new year for calculating the age of trees for tithing. This is reference to Leviticus 19:23-25:

23 “‘When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden.[a] For three years you are to consider it forbidden[b]; it must not be eaten. 24 In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the Lord. 25 But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way your harvest will be increased. I am the Lord your God.”

According to the passage, fruit is not to be eaten from fruit trees in its first three years. Nor in the fourth year, which is holy and reserved for God. In the fifth year, the fruit from the trees can be eaten. Each year is marked by the passing of the Tu B’Shevat.

The holiday is celebrated by eating fruit. Jews particularly seek to eat fruits that have been mentioned in the Torah in its praise of the bounty of the Holy Land. They eat from the Seven Species (shivat haminim) which include wheat, barley, grapes (vines), figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. Some Jews also plant new trees on Tu B’Shevat.

 

3 Tree Related Activities for Kids

Is it your kids summer holidays? Are they bored out of their mind? Or are they just spending all day on the iPad? Either way, it’s time to introduce them to the great outdoors. The number of activities you can do outside are limitless, but kids these days don’t know what to do when they’re told to play outside. It’s not their fault. They just haven’t been exposed to all the great things they can do.

Since we love trees, we’ve decided to give you 3 great tree-related activities for your kids to enjoy and appreciate.

Treehouses

Treehouses might sound cliché, but they are easily one of the best ideas. It’s great exercise for both kids and adults, and gives them a chance to bond. As a bonus, your children get a private place to go to in the garden. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated with individual rooms and windows, just a roof and a place to sit. If you’re skilled at woodwork, you can add in more details.

Build a scrapbook

My parents gave me this great idea one summer holiday. They bought me a scrapbook and told me to collect leaves from different trees in our garden and the park. I pasted the leaves in the scrapbook and using a book from the library, I identified all the types and wrote a few interesting facts about each under the pasted leaf. I learnt a lot, enjoyed that summer, and was out of my mother’s hair for the summer ;)

Arts and craft projects

Get your kid busy with DIY arts and craft projects using fallen bark and twigs from trees. There are so many great ideas on Pinterest and YouTube where you use bits of trees in an art project. You can create bowls, keychains, magnets, and other cool decorative pieces for your home.

5 Famous Trees in Pop Culture

You’ve seen lists for famous dogs and cats in Hollywood, ever wonder about trees? Pop culture is made up of anything that’s hot and trending, and more often than not, that usually means anything in popular film, books, and songs.

Here’s some famous trees that have swept pop culture:

1. The Whomping Willow

Who doesn’t know Harry Potter and the massive effect it had on reading books at a time when reading was apparently going down? Harry Potter and his friends had many adventures at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, but none as frightening than facing the whomping willow. The angry tree shredded anything that came its way, including Ron’s father’s flying car and his wand!

2. Groot

Guardian’s of the Galaxy didn’t fit the sterotypical image of superheros, yet it’s won many fans. And one of the heroes is none other than a tree itself. Meet Groot, who only says three words: “I am Groot.” He may be a tree, but nobody messes with him.

3. Grandmother Willow

We’ve all grown up on Disney movies, and one of my favourites was Pocahontas. The songs, the stunning landscapes and of course wise old Grandmother Willow was made this a classic. Her sound advice to “listen with your heart” became a mantra for many of us growing up.

4. The Tree of Voices in Avatar

One of the most mesmerizing scenes in science-fiction Avatar was how the Na’vi people connected with the Tree of Voices. And one of the most shocking scenes is when the humans just tear it down! We’re just hoping that it’s magically back up again in the sequel. *fingers crossed*

5. Treebeard

The talking tree that not only walks but encouraged by Merry and Pippin wages war on Saruman. The leader of an ancient race of creatures called Ents makes for some memorable scenes in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. 

Trees in Jewish Traditions

Trees have been given a key role in Jewish traditions and literature. Recognising its importance in the existence of life, trees have been both mentioned in holy texts and celebrated for its age and endurance.

 

Tu B’Shevat Jewish Trees Ketubah

 

Tu B’Shevat

The Jewish holiday Tu B’Shevat falls on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevatand is known as the beginning of the New Year for Trees. The occasion marks the age of trees for tithing. According to  Lev 19:23-25, during the first three years of a tree, it’s fruit is not be eaten; the fourth year’s fruit is for God. After the fourth year is complete, you are allowed to eat the fruit.

People celebrate the Tu B’Shevat  by eating fruits, with a higher preference for fruit from trees from Israel: olives, dates, grapes, figs and pomegranates.

Holy references

The story of creation begins with the birth of trees. As mentioned in Genesis 1:11-12,

And God said: ‘Let the earth put forth grass, herb yielding seed, and fruit-tree bearing fruit after its kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth.’ And it was so

And the earth brought forth grass, herb yielding seed after its kind, and tree bearing fruit, wherein is the seed thereof, after its kind; and God saw that it was good.”

The Torah prohibits the destruction of trees, especially fruit trees, even in war. According to Deuteronomy 20:19-20,

When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees people, that you should besiege them?

However, you may cut down trees that you know are not fruit trees and use them to build siege works until the city at war with you falls.

 

All You Need to Know About the Wise Oak Tree in Culture and History

Oak trees have been on flags, stamps, documents, seals, and other symbolic objects. The wise oak tree has been a symbol of wisdom and knowledge inherent in its unshakeable strong trunk. The power to attract lightening has rendered it to be celebrated as a sign of power and strength. Oak trees have held a lot of significance in many cultures and societies for thousands of years, and they still continue to do so.

 

oak trees ketubah

King of the Forest

It’s ability to stand strong against nature’s storms has earned it many titles: King of the Forest, King of the Greenwood, and more famously the Mighty Oak. Perhaps for this reason, oak trees are the national tree for a large number of countries  including Serbia, Cyprus (Golden Oak), England, Estonia, France, Germany, Moldova, Romania, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Wales, Galicia, Bulgaria, and even the United States!

Oak Trees in Celtic Legends

In Celtic lore, ancient celts believed the impressive expanse and growth of the oak tree was a clear sign that it was honored for its endurance and “noble presence”. They actually used oak trees to denote a special status among the community – the Greeks and Romans also did this. The oak tree makes repeated appearances in Celtic cultures and folklore.

Worship of Oaks in Greek Mythology

Anybody who’s watched Disney’s Hercules or Clash of the Titans knows that Zeus was considered the King of Gods. In his oracle at Dodona, Zeus was revered in the oracular oak, and his voice would be heard in the rustling of oak leaves (usually interpreted by priests), the same way it was heard in thunder.

Some Pretty Old Oaks

Oak trees are known to live a very, very long time. Some pretty cool trees have stood the test of time:

  • The Bowthorpe Oak over a 1000 years old from Bourne, Lincolnshire was featured in the Guinness World Records.
  • The Crouch Oak  located in Addlestone, Surrey believed to have originated in the 11th Century, is an important symbol of its town. Legend says that Queen Elizabeth I had a picnic underneath it.
  • The Seven Sisters Oak is the largest certified southern live oak tree. It has a trunk with a diameter of 38 feet. It’s age? Just about 150o years old!
  • The Major Oak is located in Sherwood Forest, England. The same forest where legendary Robin Hood and his merry men lived.

Family Tree Ketubahs

Many, many years ago your great-great-great-grandparents were signing their ketubah, as you will some time soon. At the time it was just the two of them, but now decades later you’re a small part of a large family. It won’t be surprising if you don’t even know half your relatives, but the ones you do know are your support system. Whether you disagree or not, you can always count on them to be there for you.

Judaism places a lot of importance on family and maintaining close ties with your relatives. Ask any Jew about their most memorable Jewish traditions, and each occasion will involve family members. Passover Seders at your grandparents’ house, lighting Chanukah candles with your elders, or eating Shabbat and other Jewish meals at home all emphasise the significance of family in Jewish rituals.

Family trees all begin with the signing of a ketubah. For couples who want to pay homage to their family and ancestors, a blooming family tree is the perfect symbol. The same goes for people who want to dedicate their ketubah to future generations.

A family tree ketubah sounds like a Pinterest project, with pictures and embellishments. As fascinating as that sounds, it’s not sustainable. Ketubahs are meant to last forever, which is why you should consider a high-quality ketubah illustrated and painted by professional artists. You can further customise your ketubah by adding unique elements special to your family as adornments to the tree branches, like your grandfather’s favorite bird or the roses your mother likes to grow in her backyard.

Ketubahs are no longer a document you roll up and lock in a safety deposit box, but a work of art with unique meaning and significance etched into every word and stroke. Family tree ketubahs will always remind you and your children of the most important thing in life – family!

 

What Happens to Trees After Wildfires?

Any person who keeps up with the news knows that Canada is going through one of its worst wildfires ever. The city of Fort McMurray is in ruins with over 1600 homes and buildings burned in the fire, and more than 90,000 people evacuated from the area. Luckily no lives have been lost, yet the community mourns the loss of their homes, possessions, and an image of a place burned to the ground.

Flames burn near the City of Berkeley's Toulumne Family Camp near Groveland, California, USA, 25 August 2013.  Firefighters battling a rapidly spreading wildfire in California will have to contend with ridge winds expected to increase late 25 August 2013 and hamper containment efforts.  EPA/NOAH BERGER ** Usable by LA Only **

While buildings can be reconstructed, and things bought again, one thing that caught my attention was the trees. What happens to forests after a wildfire? Well that depends on a couple of things.

Dryness

A study by Phil van Mantgem, a research ecologist, surveyed thousands of trees in more than a dozen western parks, and found that those trees burned in dry conditions was more likely to die than a tree similarly burned in wet conditions. Trees in areas which were going through a drought were more likely to burn completely.

Intensity of the Fire

The higher the intensity of the fire, the more damaging its effects. Surprisingly, low-intensity fires are actually beneficial to maintaining a healthy forest in the long run. Trees can also recover from moderate-intensity fires, as the strongest and most healthiest trees survive leaving some forest cover. But stronger fires are damaging in the long run as they lose protection from rainfall and erosion caused by the resulting white, grey ash from the fire.

Prior Treatment

Forest Ecology and Management published a study on tree survival after a wildfire, on areas treated with thinning and prescribed fire. The results showed “probability of survival was greatest in those areas that had both thinning and prescribed fire prior to the wildfire event. Survival was near zero for the untreated areas. Survival in thinned-only areas was greater than untreated areas but substantially less than the areas with both treatments.”

Understanding how certain trees survive in a wildfire, is crucial to preventing their damage and limiting the spread of the fire. While it is certainly a large task, it’s effects would be substantial on people living in wildfire-prone areas and the wildlife living there.

 

Each Ton of Recycled Paper Saves 17 Trees

Surprisingly, not many people know that paper comes from trees. I guess it’s one of those things that people don’t give a second thought about. Like when was the last time you thought about how glass is made? Or where plastic comes from?

Unless you’ve studied basic-level sciences, not many people are aware of how pivotal trees are in keeping this world, and us, alive. A brief biology lesson tells you that humans need oxygen to survive, and the biggest oxygen production unit on Earth is trees. Not only do they let us breathe, they are home to thousands of species of animals and insects. They keep the soil stable, and prevent erosion.

In short, removing trees is bad for us and our planet.

Because trees are useful in so many other materialistic ways, such as for firewood and building material for homes and furniture, they are being cut down at an alarming rate. Global warming is a major cause for concern everywhere, and it is mostly a consequence of loosing dense forests that once covered large portions of land.

While asking man to stop building out of wood is the best option, a more viable alternative is to recycle what we have already taken from Mother Earth. Paper is used everyday, every minute. Electronic devices are doing a great job in replacing the need for printed material and books, yet consumption of paper remains.

Rather than throw paper you no longer need in the thrash, a great and more profound option is to recycle it. Gather newspapers, magazines, annoying newsletters and pamphlets you’re most likely never going to need and have them recycled.

According to the University of Southern Indiana, “Each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water. This represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution!”

So recycling paper not only saves tree, it saves you, me and everybody else on this green planet.

Four Times Trees took Center Stage in Art History

Along with providing  food, shade, greenery and oxygen, trees have long served as a pillar of inspiration. They have silently stood by while humankind has progressed, and given us the spark to move forward. An apple tree was responsible for giving us Newton’s theory of gravity, when a falling apple fell on the English scientist’s head. Likewise they have inspired famous names in science, art and American literature including writers like Faulkner, Kerouac, Welty and Wharton.

One very famous depiction of a tree in the history of art is by none other than famed artist Van Gogh. Painted in October 1889, an oil on canvas painting named Mulberry Tree features – yep, you’ve guessed it – a single golden Mulberry tree is one of the artist’s best works. He painted the famed tree between epileptic attacks, and an asylum in Saint-Rémy he checked himself into. mulberry-tree

In an ambitious project, art duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped trees with 592,015 square feet (55,000 square meters) of woven polyester fabric. The project took around 10 days to complete and left on the trees for another 3 weeks. The polyester billowed in the wind, creating “dynamic volumes of light and shadow and moving in the wind with new forms and surfaces shaped by the ropes on the fabric.”

 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Wrapped Trees

Sculptures with branches, with or without leaves or flowers, makes regular appearances in the art community. But it was in 2009, Roxy Paine’s most ambitious work, Maelstrom, that took New York’s breath away. Sitting on top of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it gave viewers the sense of being immersed in the midst of a cataclysmic force of nature.

Roxy Paine’s Maelstrom

Over a hundred years old, this timeless work of art, known as Autumn Trees, is a product of Egon Schiele. It now belongs to a private collector, and is an echo of his portraits featuring spindly limbs of nude models and himself.

autumn-trees