Balete tree in Maria Aurora (Millenium Tree)

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Balete tree in Maria Aurora, Philipppines
Balete tree in Maria Aurora / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
There is eerie and somewhat creepy balete tree amidst papaya plantations near Maria Aurora village. It is some 60 – 65 m tall and some 60 adult people are needed to get their arms around this incredible tree. This is Millenium Tree – one of the largest trees in the world.

Giant banyan tree

This giant of Maria Aurora is balete tree – a kind of banyan (Ficus balete or, possibly – Ficus benjamina0. Often there is mentioned that this is the largest banyan tree in Asia. In fact this can not be proved or disclaimed: there are many ways to measure the size of the tree, especially banyans and there certainly are many noble contenders for the title of largest banyan tree in the world.

It is very hard to find the exact circumference or diameter of old banyan trees due to aerial roots. As the tree becomes older more and more aerial roots enclose the main trunk, one after another they grow into the older trunks and finally it is not possible to find the middle behind the dense network of these roots.

Due to aerial roots the lower part of Maria Aurora balete looks weird: like a pile of countless aerial roots. Higher above this "heap" rise enormous, tall branches.

People actually can pass between the stems of enormous aerial roots and go INSIDE the Aurora balete tree – most likely the original stem has been lost and there has formed large hollow. Stems rise high above the head, twisting and joining and holding the weight of the giant tree.

The tree has a diameter of some 12 – 15 m. This is more than any other tree in the world (Árbol del Tule in Mexico has a diameter of 11.62 m) but it can be disputed whether Millenium Tree has the stoutest trunk in the world because it consists of numerous smaller aerial roots and trunks.

Balete is very tough – the 60 – 65 m tall and 60 m wide crown has survived numerous extreme typhoons.

Tree is carbon dated to be between 400 – 600 years old.

Mystical creatures and tourists

Among the local Ilongot people the tree has got good fame – they prayed here for good hunting.

Filipino folklore is rich with ghost stories and many people believe that in Aurora Balete tree there are living gruesome supernatural beings like "kapres", "impakto" and "diwatas". Kapre is similar to human, but two – three metres high, almost black, stinky and hairy, with enormous glowing green eyes. He likes to sit in balete tree and smoke. Impakto is demon who takes a form of small baby but actually is killing people. Diwatas are noble creatures – these spirits guard the forests and trees.

In earlier times here was established Balete Park, with entrance fee and with people looking after the tree. It was not allowed to climb the balete. Unfortunately nowadays it looks much worse: the soil around the tree has been trampled and numerous tourists are climbing this wonder of nature, countless names have been engraved in the bark of tree. The overall health of the tree is worsening.

Balete tree in Maria Aurora is included in the following list:

10 stoutest tree species of the world
10 stoutest tree species of the world

References

  1. Michael Sinjin A. Pineda, Largest Balete Tree in Asia, Maria Aurora, Libotero. Story with many pictures. Accessed on September 16, 2010.

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Balete tree in Maria Aurora (Millenium Tree) 15.769772, 121.476959 Balete tree in Maria Aurora (Millenium Tree)
Coordinates: 15.7698 N 121.4770 E
Categories: Trees
Values: Biology, Visual
Rating: 3
Address: Asia, Philippines, Luzon, Aurora Province, Quirino barangay, some 3.5 km from Maria Aurora village, in Balete Park
Species: Balete (Ficus balete Merr.) or weeping fig (Ficus benjamina L.)
Height: 65 m (?)
Diameter: Around 12 – 15 m
Crown diameter: Roughly 60 m
Alternate names: Millenium Tree, Centennial Tree

Landmarks of Philippines

Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Philippines
Chocolate Hills in Bohol / Kleo Marlo Sialongo, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
The charming Philippines in many respects represent the true Southern tropical paradise. This archipelago consists of thousands of diverse islands and the wealth and diversity of the countless landmarks here is hard to grasp.

Trees

Árbol del Tule, another aspect of trunk which shows that the trunk has elongated form
Árbol del Tule, another aspect of trunk which shows that the trunk has elongated form / cezzie901, / CC BY 2.0
Category includes some of the most impressive and interesting separate trees of the the world. Total number of tree species in the world still is a wild guess – may be 10,000 and may be 100,000 but most likely somewhere in between. Every month there are reported new tree species from the whole world, including the Western Europe.

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