Leccio – Quercus ilex – Fagaceae family
Holm or Holly oak
“ … and rivers of milk, rivers of nectar flowed,
and blond honey dripped from the green Holm”
Ovidio – the metamorphosis
The Holm oak is an evergreen from which the leaves fall every two years: it can grow as tall as 25-30 metres, it has shrubby leaves when young and when they are older they are complete. The fruits are acorns.
In ancient times the tree was sacred for the gods. In archaic Rome they believed it was an oracle tree, because it attracted lightening. The nymph Egeria lived in the oak woods, the inspiration of King Numa.
Cerro – Quercus Cerris – Fagaceae family
The Turkey Oak has a trunk with greyish brown bark and deep reddish grooves. It tends to develop it’s foliage until it reaches a height of about 30-35m.
The fruits are acorns of about 2.5cm long, a characteristic of the cowls is that they are densely covered in soft 4-8 mm long ‘mossy’ bristles in a clear yellowish colour that also coat the buds, which allows recognition in every season.
One of the 600 recognised species of the genus Quercus, mythologically it is a cosmic tree
widespread in the archaic world.
These giants of the plant world have been, for many populations, the mythical representation of the axis of the world: their foliage reaches up to the sky, home of the Gods; whereas the trunk is immersed in the earth, where life begins; finally the roots represent the ocean and what lies beneath.
Sughera – Quercus suber – Fagaceae family
An evergreen, spontaneously found all around the western basin of the Mediterranean sea.
The Cork oak has a normal tree growth, with a height that can reach 20m and loose and expansive foliage. It has a life expectation of 250 – 300 years, less for the specimens exploited for their cork. The fruit is a green oval acorn which, in maturing, becomes brown, length 3cm with a very short apex. The cup is a bit more conical than that of the Holm oak, and covers the acorn for a variable length, between a third and half of it, with a scaly greenish grey.
The acorn was of nutritional use for many populations: in Europe the flour was used for sweet confectionary and bread in the famine periods. In Spain, even today, they make confectionary from the acorn flour.
The tree was excellent for all the populations in ancient times. In Greece it represented the holiness of the earth, like Zeus was the God of Mount Olympus.
Pino – Pinus Pinaster – Pinaceae family
An evergreen tree on the Mediterranean coast. Can grow as high as 30m. The young foliage is conical, with branches that rise curving upwards, the adult trees are flatter and dense. The foliage looks like needles. In Greek legends, as in those of the orient, they are significant for eternity and immortality. In Japan they use pine wood for these reasons, to build temples and wooden instruments for religious celebrations and again, in Japan as in ancient Roman times, the pine is important for wedding rites.
Cipresso – Cupressus L. – Cupressaceae family
An evergreen tree with scale like leaves, closely huddled together or apart at the apex, depending on the species. The fruits are a woody cone, ovoid, divided into a number of scales that separate on maturing.
The slim shape forces one to look at the sky and guides our spirits to the heights.
In Greek mythology it is told, that Apollo the God of light, was in love with the young and beautiful Ciparisso that he had as a companion, and who had a tame deer. One day, while Ciparisso practised with his bow, he mistakenly hit the deer and killed it. He was so devastated that he implored to be killed in turn. Apollo was moved by the pain of his beloved, and turned him into a tree and gave it the name Cypress, which became the symbol of sorrow, as the sap on its trunk forms droplets, like tears.
Olivo – Olea europea L –Oleacee family
This is an evergreen tree, with growth that needs almost continuous attention in the winter period. The fruits start to grow after 3 or 4 years, the full production of fruits not until 9 or 10 years. It is a tree with a very long life; in favourable climatic conditions, an Olive tree can live for a thousand years.
The Olive tree is most important in the history of civilisation around the Mediterranean basin, and in the whole of the western world.
It is mentioned in numerous legends; one that originates in Greece tells of an olive harvest at the world’s end with Hercules, who was born in the sacred woods of Zeus, wreaths were woven from its branches for the winners of the Olympic games.
Castagno – Castanea sativa – Fagaceae family
A tall tree that can grow up to a height of 30m, dicotyledonous, with large lance shaped leaves with serrated edges and prominent veins.
The development of the chestnut is initially very slow and accomplishes it’s full splendour of vegetation in about 50 years.
“…Beyond being extremely useful, a chestnut tree also has a beautiful appearance, and a well maintained Chestnut is a beautiful sight, and it’s shade is most delightful, pleasant and fresh for you to enjoy…”
(from A Deal with the Trees of Tuscany, from Gaetano Savi)
Pip fruits, or Jupiter’s acorn: these are the nicknames that the Latins gave the chestnuts. The reason that the tree, with its short but strong trunk and imposing crown, invokes the supreme God.
Ciliegio – Prunus avium – Rosaceae family
This is a deciduous tree that reaches between 15 and 32m in height and about 100 years of age. Plinius the Elder differentiated between a Prunus tree and Ceraus – a cherry tree. Plinius had already described a certain number of cultivations of other species mentioned Apropiana, Lutatia, Caesiliana….. Plinius differentiated the flavours from sweet to sour.
In the Greek mythology it was a tree sacred to Venus and its fruits were supposed to bring luck and immortality. In the Saxon legends the gods of the fields lived in the cherry trees. The Japanese have made the blossom a national flower symbol, also providing an explanation for the pink colour of the flowers: it seems that they were originally white but then, after the fallen Samurai were buried under these trees, the petals turned pink from the blood of the valorous soldiers.