El Arbol del Tule, or the Tree of Tule, is a giant cypress tree that grows in the town of Santa Maria del Tule, about 12 kilometers from the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. It is the tree with the largest trunk diameter in the world, measuring 14.06 meters (almost 44 meters in circumference). It is estimated to be over 2,000 years old, making it one of the oldest living things on Earth.
The Tree of Tule is a symbol of the rich cultural and natural heritage of Oaxaca. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003. According to local legends, the tree was planted by a priest of the wind god Ehécatl, or by a king of the Mixe people who left his staff on the ground. The tree’s name means “Tree of Illumination” in Zapotec, one of the indigenous languages of Oaxaca.
One of the most fascinating features of the Tree of Tule is that its trunk has various shapes that resemble animals, such as a lion, an elephant, a crocodile, and a deer. These shapes are pointed out by local children who guide visitors around the tree. The tree also provides shade and shelter for hundreds of people who gather under its branches to admire its beauty and majesty.