Since 2001, Galicia has had a Galician Catalog of Singular Trees, those that, native or not, public or private property, have characteristics that make them very important. This honorary position causes them to be specially protected and their value is promoted. And that, on the other hand, any project that could threaten your health, has to obtain a special authorization from the General Directorate of Patrimony of the Xunta. Since 2007, the so-called natural monuments or unique formations (forests, chestnut groves…) have been added to the catalogue.
In order for a tree or tree formation to be included in the catalogue, we have to submit an application, which is formalized by filling out an application form and attaching a justified report. Then, the Galician Committee of Singular Trees is in charge of accepting it or not, and informing the administration before proceeding with the cataloging.
And, what criteria is followed to consider a tree singular? Well, they can be singular for dendrometric reasons, that is, for the dimensions, as can be the case of the Avó of Chavín; for biological or ecological reasons, in terms of its rarity, such as the Ombú of the Pazo de Rivadulla, for example; cultural reasons, such as the “figueiriña” that Rosalía planted, or the Souto da Rubial of Uxío Novoneyra; or because of its beauty or situation.
To date, 183 specimens are catalogued, among which there are 144 trees and 38 tree formations of 81 different species. The most abundant are oaks and chestnuts.
There are unique trees throughout Galicia: 54 in the province of A Coruña, 40 in Lugo, 26 in Ourense and 63 in Pontevedra. However, it must be taken into account that the figures vary, with new additions and, unfortunately, sometimes with casualties, many as a result of storms.
There are unique trees throughout Galicia: 55 in the province of A Coruña, 39 in Lugo, 26 in Ourense and 62 in Pontevedra. However, it must be borne in mind that the figures are changing, with new additions and, sometimes, unfortunately, with casualties, many as a result of storms.
All these trees are mature. Among the youngest, there is the red sequoia of the Pazo of Lourizán, about 71 years old. The oldest in the catalog is the chestnut tree of Ramil, in Triacastela, at the foot of the Camino de Santiago, which is… eight and a half centuries old!
Well, since they are spread throughout Galicia, we are going to approach some of them in each province. For example, in A Coruña, in the municipality of Oleiros, we can admire the Distinguished Pine of the Castle of Santa Cruz. It is in the gardens of the island, which is accessed through a wooden walkway. It is 26.6 m high and has a crown perimeter of 23.5 m, and is between 100 and 200 years old.
In the municipality of Vedra is the Grid of Olives of the Pazo de Santa Cruz de Rivadulla, about 500 years old and almost 15 m high, which is not bad. In 2015 it won an award for the best monumental olive grove in Spain. On both sides of a road, they make a very beautiful romantic tunnel.
In the province of Lugo, a classic is the Avó (grandfather) of the Eucalyptus of Chavín, in Viveiro, between 110 and 140 years old, which is located in the Souto da Retorta, which in turn is a natural monument. For a long time it was considered the tallest eucalyptus in all of Europe. He is 60 m, although he is going less, because he is a little sick. The trunk, with a base perimeter of 11 m, appears in many photos embraced by a circle of people.
Another peculiar specimen is the Chestnut tree of the chapel, in Baamonde, in the municipality of Begonte. Before cataloging existed, the local artist Víctor Corral locked himself inside the hollow of its trunk, where he carved out a whole sanctuary to the Rosario Virgin, an imaginative way of avoiding its felling due to the widening of the highway. The fact is that he achieved his goal, and today we can still enjoy this 500-year-old tree. Now, thanks to cataloging, we don’t have to go to these extreme measures.
In Ourense there are many unique chestnut trees, one of them, that of Pumbariños, which is part of the Souto de Rozabales, also a natural monument, in Manzaneda. It is one of the largest chestnut specimens, 16 m tall and about 20 in diameter. It is five centuries old at least.
Changing species, the Teixedal de Casaio, in Carballeda de Valdeorras, displays a group of more than 400 yews, these mythical Celtic trees, between 200 and 400 years old.
The province of Pontevedra is the one with the most unique trees. In Vigo, for example, in the Pazo de Castrelos, stands in the middle of the boxwood labyrinth, supported by sticks, the Methuselah of the camellias, known for its age and size. It is more than 8 m high and has a crown diameter of 16 m, and is about 200 years old.
In Quintela, in the municipality of Lalín, there is a formation of chestnut trees considered to be the best in size in Europe (FAO, 1954). They form the Fraga de Catasós, through which Emilia Pardo Bazán walked a lot. They are between 225 and 250 years old, and stand out for their verticality.
These are a few examples of the many trees that mean so much to Galicia. We hope they will continue with us for a long time and that this catalog continues to grow.