Ancient “singing linden” voted Tree of the Year
A “singing” linden tree, also known as the Lukas linden, has been voted the Czech Tree of the Year 2021. The majestic tree, which is estimated to be at least 700 years old, grows in the village of Telecí in Eastern Bohemia and will now compete for the title of European Tree of the Year.
The ancient linden tree with a hollow trunk is likely to have sprouted in the early 1300’s, during the reign of John of Luxembourg. It witnessed the Hussite Wars that ravaged the Czech lands in the 15th century as well as the subsequent persecution of the Czech Brethren.
Silvia Zeinerová Sanžu from the Partnership Foundation, which organizes the Tree of the Year competition, explains how the tree got its peculiar name:
“Legend has it that at the end of the 17th century, a local farmer would hide in the hollow of the linden, to transcribe forbidden psalms. He sang very loudly because he had a hearing problem. And since he couldn’t be seen, it seemed as if the tree itself was singing.”
The legend of the signing linden has been described by a number of Czech writers, including Alois Jirásek and Teréza Nováková. It also enchanted composer Bohuslav Martinů, who planned to put the story to music.
Today, the solitary linden tree stands in a garden, next to an old timber cottage. It belongs to the family of Veronika Dvořáčková, who used to play in its hollow trunk as a child:
“I used to play inside the tree as well as in the canopy, so I have been very close to the linden all my life and I think that’s what made me come back after spending 15 years abroad.”
With a circumference of nearly 12 metres, the Lukas linden is the second biggest linden tree in the Czech Republic. It is regularly inspected by experts from the local Landscape Protected Area, but is mainly cared for by the family of Mrs Dvořáčková:
“Every autumn, we have to rake all the leaves, to get rid of the pests, and we have to check the tree regularly. We have just found out that there is water seeping inside the trunk, so we have to deal with the problem.
“We will contact the arborist who has been looking after the tree for the past four decades. We insist on the same person, because he has developed a special connection with the tree over the years.”
The singing linden has received almost 2,700 votes, beating eleven finalists and an overall 97 trees in the running. An ancient oak tree from East Moravia finished in the second spot, followed by a spruce tree in the Moravian capital of Brno.
The voting, which is fee-based has raised nearly 250,000 crowns, that will be used for the protection and maintenance of this year’s finalists and also for trees that are under immediate threat.