The Thule tree is the thickest tree in the world. Mexico.

Tule tree – the most unstructured cypress, history and interesting facts

In Mexico, near the main church of the town of Santa Maria del Tule, grows a real natural wonder – the Tule cypress tree.

It is impossible to determine the exact age of this miracle. According to some sources it is 1300 years old, according to others it is 6000 years old. So it is possible that the Thule tree is not only the thickest tree in the world, but also the oldest, and to cut it down to count its annual rings – a real sacrilege.

tule tree

The locals consider it a real shrine. In addition, thousands of tourists come to the city every year to see this amazing miracle. Whether the locals are happy or not, their well-being depends largely on the development of tourism in their places.

Cypress Dimensions

The Tule tree, or Taxodium mexicana, is a real mystery to scientists. Previously, it was thought to be several trees spliced into one thick trunk, but DNA tests have shown that the entire bulk is a single organism.

Looking at the photo, taken from different angles, it is hard to believe that it is all one trunk, so different it looks from different sides. A huge tree, 40 meters high, more than 40 meters in girth and 14 meters in diameter, the roots go into the ground to 80 meters deep. And its crown is so large and sprawling that it is impossible to determine its exact size.

The world's thickest tree

More than a hundred people can take shelter under the tree’s crown, and its shade can cover a company of five hundred people. The bronze plaque says that it weighs 636 tons. And the volume is 816 cubic meters, it is unrealistically huge. A church standing next to such a giant seems like a toy.


Usually it is called simply – the Thule tree comes from the name of the city in which it grows. Locals call it by its human name Sabino, and in the language of the ancient Indians living in those lands, its name sounds like “ahuehuete.

Unspeakable to the Russian-speaking public. The word is translated as “old man standing by the water.

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According to another version, “Tule” means “you unite your enemies.” (orig. Tu Uniras Los Enemigos).

thule tree photo

This version has spread because of a beautiful legend. Once upon a time, all the animals of those places were friendly, and they had only one enemy – man. The gods gave the animals strength, speed and caution, but hunters tracked them down and surrounded them. And then the cypress standing on the swamp called the animals to take refuge in its branches.

The hunters left with nothing, and the god of hunting, who patronized humans, became angry and turned the land into an arid desert. The beasts died out. The gods fought many battles, but they managed to come to an agreement, turned the desert into steppe, animals inhabited the land again, people were able to hunt and tame the animals again. And the tree remained standing in its place, guarding the lion, crocodile and elephant.

Myths associated with the cypress

Locals associate with the amazing monument of nature a lot of legends.

According to beliefs, it was planted by a priest of the wind god on sacred ground for ceremonies and to saturate the energy of the cosmos.

There is an opinion that Thule is the Tree of Life, and as long as it is alive, life on earth continues. The outgrowths on the trunk resemble the silhouettes of animals: crocodile, lion, elephant.

Mexican Taxodium

Rumor has it that it was the legend of the Thule Tree that inspired James Cameron in creating the movie Avatar. The Ava tree is the cypress tree.

Predictions for the unstructured cypress tree

In 2001, UNESCO added it to the list of world heritage. At the same time, its condition began to deteriorate. At the end of the twentieth century, scientists found that the tree began to die. Because of urbanization and industrialization, marshes and lakes were drained, the level of groundwater dropped, and such a giant needs a lot of water.

The logical result – the natural monument began to suffer and wither. Because of this, an irrigation system was laid underground in the park, thus providing a supply of more than 30,000 liters of water daily.

Research in 2011 showed that in order to prolong the life of the giant, it is necessary to regularly water it, prune its branches and remove parasitic fungi from its trunk. The locals take great care of it, as ¾ of the population is directly dependent on the giant and the tourists it attracts.

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Thule tree Mexico

Exhaust gases also do their job, the neighboring street is the main highway of the city, through which every day at least 8000 cars pass, which can not safely affect the tree, most of its life has lived in a clean environment. Over the past 100 years the conditions for the plants have changed for the worse.

For protection, a metal fence is put up, and it is forbidden to enter behind it. But is at a great distance from the tree Thule, photos of tourists in the background do not convey how huge it is, even in comparison with a small human figure.

How to get to Santa Maria del Tule

The address of the Thule Tree is: Mexico, Oaxaca, Santa María del Tule, ten kilometers from the city of Oaxaca de Juárez. You can get from Oaxaca de Juárez to Santa María del Tule by “collective cab”. These are found only in the state of Oaxaca. These are regular white and maroon-colored passenger cars, with a sign indicating the direction placed on the windshield of the car.

You need a car with a “Tule” sign. The number of passengers in such a cab is unlimited. How many will fit in, depends on the dimensions of the participants of the trip. And on the way passengers can change, some go out, and others sit in their place.

On the way some passengers go out and new ones sit in their place immediately. The driver must be warned that it is necessary to get to the Arbor del Tule, and he will drop off within walking distance of the main attraction of the city.

tule tree

It is noteworthy that such a trip takes only 15 minutes, and costs no more than a fare in the minibus. In fact, it is a minibus, and one should not expect the comfort of a cab there.

As sad as it is, the tree is gradually dying. Everything has its expiration date, and the tree in Tooele has probably come to the end of its useful life.

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Standing for hundreds of years the tree has not been able to adapt to the new ecology, so when going on vacation to Mexico, you can not miss the opportunity to see with their own eyes this amazing wonder of nature, take your own photo against the background of the giant, try to consider the silhouettes of animals on the trunk and stand next to the sacred ground, charging with the energy of the space.

There is also another kind of cypress, the swamp cypress, and you can see it by following this link.

The most unstructured cypress. Tule tree, Mexico

Hola, amigos! My Mexican journey through the pages of this blog continues, and today I invite you to visit a true wonder of nature – the giant Thule tree, which has the thickest trunk of any tree in existence today. However, it is not only about nature: the locals, the descendants of the ancient Indian tribe Zapotecas, consider the tree sacred and attribute a lot of magical properties to it.

Tule tree, Mexico; Arbol del Tule is the thickest tree on earth

The fact that this tree is special is evident from afar: its immense crown shades nearly half the block, and the church standing nearby seems, against its background, well, just a toy.

Tule tree, Mexico; Arbol del Tule is the thickest tree on earth

Some encyclopedic data. The Mexican Taxodium cypress family tree is about 40 metres high, weighs over 600 tonnes and, most importantly, has a trunk diameter of over 11.5 metres and a circumference of 36 metres – this is the largest result among the trees living on our planet. In order to embrace the tree, a chain of at least 30 people taking each other’s hands would be required. At first glance it may seem that the giant tree is formed from the trunks of several trees, fused together, but the scientists’ DNA analysis showed that the Thule tree is the most unified and coherent organism.

Tule tree, Mexico; Arbol del Tule is the thickest tree on earth

The age of the giant tree is not known with certainty: in order to establish the exact figure it would be enough to count the number of rings in a section of the trunk, but as you understand, to saw the sacred tree for the Mexicans is like death. Scientists’ estimates in this matter are very relative: some give the tree two thousand years, while others give it all of six! Therefore, it is possible that besides being the thickest tree on earth, the Thule may also be the oldest.

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Tule tree, Mexico; Arbol del Tule is the thickest tree on earth

The tree is enclosed with a fence from all sides – so the townspeople protect their sanctuary from ill-wishers, so it is impossible to take a picture on its background to compare its size. At a distance, limited by metal bars, the comparative effect does not look as spectacular as it would be in the immediate vicinity of the giant tree.

Tule tree, Mexico; Arbol del Tule is the thickest tree on earth

From different angles, the Thule tree appears to the viewer in different guises. In the photo above, for example, it is able to fit within the limits of philistine perceptions, but it takes a few steps around, and the tree changes, takes new forms, shocking in their immensity. As here, for example…

Tule tree, Mexico; Arbol del Tule is the thickest tree on earth

The name “tree of Thule” most likely came from the name of the city of Santa Maria del Tule, where it is located. In the language of the ancient Indians called the tree differently, very, I would say, to the ear of the Russian-speaking people originally – ahuehuete, which means “old tree, growing by the water. Today the locals call the tree by its human name, Sabino.

Tule tree, Mexico; Arbol del Tule is the thickest tree on earth

Local residents and tourists have an entertainment associated with the tree Thule – by looking closely at its bark and branches, to detect the outlines of an animal or even a person. Thus, there is an elephant, a lion, a crocodile, a gorilla, an anteater, as well as the ear of Carlos Salinas de Gortari – one of the former presidents of Mexico, and even the chest of Olga Briskina – the famous Mexican violinist with Russian roots. Frankly speaking – I know about all of this only by hearsay, because in order to distinguish between all of the above one must have a great imagination. It is impossible to cope without it, especially from such a distance! Because of the abundance of associations with animals and people, the Thule tree is often called the “tree of life. Maybe that’s why the locals believe that as long as the tree is alive, it gives life to everything around it.

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Tule tree, Mexico; Arbol del Tule is the thickest tree on earth

The Zapotecs believe that the sacred tree was planted 1,400 years ago by the priest of the wind god Ehekatl, and that their Indian ancestors danced around it, recharging themselves with the energy of the cosmos. This legend reminded me of scenes from the famous movie Avatar, not without reason it is said that its director James Cameron came up with the plot for a reason, but from knowledge gleaned from all over the world.

Immediately after visiting the Thule tree we went to another, no less wonderful place – thermal waterfalls Hierve el Agua, about which I will tell in the next post. See you soon!

How to get to the Thule Tree, Mexico

The Tule tree (Arbol del Tule) is located ten kilometers from the town of Oaxaca de Juarez at 2 de Abril, Santa Maria Del Tule, Oaxaca, Mexico. To get to the town of Santa Maria del Tule from Oaxaca de Juarez, you have to catch a so-called “collective cab”, a phenomenon I saw for the first time in the state of Oaxaca. The collective cab is an ordinary maroon and white passenger cab with a sign on the windshield that indicates the direction in which it is headed. The difference of this cab from usual is that the driver picks up people voting on roads, thus filling up the car practically to a full: two people sit on front passenger seats, on back – as many as physical parameters of passengers will allow, without any restrictions. On the way, some passengers get off, and new ones take their place at once. The cab you want is the one with the sign “Tule” or “Santa Maria Del Tule”. Warn the driver that you want to get off at Arbol del Tule, and he will drop you off within walking distance of the desired location. The fare is 10 Mexican pesos ($0.7) one way and the journey takes about 15 minutes.

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