Friday, 21 August 2020

castagno dei cento cavalli

In one of the first official acts recognising and treasuring the environment, the Royal Court of Sicilian Heritage (Tribunale dell’Ordine del Real Patrimonio di Sicilia) inscribed the Hundred Horse Chestnut into rolls of protected property on this day in 1745.
The four-thousand-year old tree on the eastern slopes of Mount Etna (perhaps owing its longevity to rich volcanic soil—all the more so because of its precarious location) is believed to be the oldest in existence. Recorded as having the greatest girth—having split into a grove multiple trunks above ground, the tree received its name after local lore relating that when Queen Juana I of Castilla (called La Loca) passed through with her large entourage of knights, the entire company was able to shelter under its boughs during a thunderstorm. This venerable tree is a sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa), whereas a horse chestnut is a close-cousin.