In Norse mythology, a giant ash tree - Yggdrasil - represents "axis mundi", around which the 9 worlds (the world of people - Middle-earth, being one of them) are organized. A giant snake, Níðhöggr, gnaws at its roots, but they always grow anew.
The biblical Tree of Knowledge has even some similarities to Yggdrasil. The snake is present, also, and although presented in a negative light, the tree is a giver of knowledge.... Just like in the myth about Yggdrasil when the god Odin sacrificed himself, hanging on the tree for nine days, to learn the secrets of knowledge.
After his sacrifice, Odin learned the runes, and brought them to the people. This is another important role of the tree as a giver of script. In Celtic tradition, the entire alphabet, ogham is based on trees, one tree representing one letter. It was used mostly for magical purposes, like divination.
Dryads are tree spirits in Greek mythology. Technically speaking, dryads are the nymphs of oak trees, but the term has come to be used for all tree nymphs in general.
A Green Man is a sculpture, drawing, or other representation of a face surrounded by or made from leaves. Found in many cultures around the world, the Green Man is often related to natural vegetative deities springing up in different cultures throughout the ages. Primarily it is interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, or "renaissance," representing the cycle of growth each spring.
In Eastern tradition, trees also play an important role, connected with the "giver of knowledge" myth. It was the Bodhi Tree, that Buddha was sitting under, when he achieved the enlightenment. It was a Fig tree, and its descendant still grows in the Mahabodhi Temple, now over 2.000 years old.
While redwoods are the biggest trees in the world, the first place in circumference belongs to another tree. It is the Tule tree (Taxodium mucronatum) in Santa Maria del Tule, Oaxaca, Mexico with the circumference of 54 m.
The world's oldest living trees are the b>Bristlecone Pines</b> (Pinus longaeva). The oldest tree, named Methuselah, was discovered in the White Mountains in eastern California and is over 4.800 years old.
The possibility of trees to make clonal systems, however, can change our perception of their age. Pando (or The Trembling Giant) is a clonal colony of a single male Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) located in Utah, all determined to be part of a single living organism by identical genetic markers and one massive underground root system. The root system of Pando is claimed by some to be among the oldest known living organisms in existence at 80.000 years of age.
When facing these facts, it is not a wonder that trees have been worshipped. It's a pity that so many amazing trees have fallen, having no place in the "modern" age. The more we should value the ones that remain...
Some more amazing pictures of trees, showing that the symbol of a tree still remains in the human mind, and is mirrored in art
And also fractals, because a tree is a natural fractal in its structure, repating its form on many levels.
I hope you enjoyed the article, found some great pictures, and learned something new. It is just a short compilation of the amazing topic of trees in mythology, and if you want to know more, I will gladly answer any questions.