It’s not a small mountain but rather a sizable tree.
Is there a single tree that can claim to be the largest in the world? One might expect General Sherman to be towards the top of the list, but wait until you see this.
Deep in the Caribbean region of Colombia is a tree that some people wrongly call “The Tree of Guacar,” while in reality, it is just another massive tree in the same general location that happens to look a lot like the tree we are presenting here.
The Samán of Guacar, as the tree is often known, appeared on Colombian 500 peso coins in the 1990s. It was a rain tree or Samanea saman, that was cut down in 1989 due to its thick branches breaking off.
In contrast, the tree discussed in this piece is unique. It may look like a typical Samanea saman, but it’s not. It’s a Ficus, or fig tree, a species of the ever-popular Ficus genus and may be found in gardens and houses worldwide. The expansion is massive.
The colossal fig is the largest tree in Columbia and is so tall and wide that it seems like a hill from a distance. It’s true that you’ll feel increasingly little as you draw near. However, it is to be expected, given that this monster is said to be 30 meters tall and 75 meters in circumference (we couldn’t locate conclusive confirmation, but the photographs appear to reinforce this).
The tree’s foliage is so lush and lovely that it looks like a mountain range of green, and the way its branches graze the ground makes it seem as if the tree is bowing in respect to Mother Nature. Aerial roots extend out from the most distant branches of a tree and not only touch the ground but also provide structural support.
The sight was breathtaking. According to Viajar en Verano, standing under this enormous tree is akin to being in the bowels of a mighty structure, what with all the massive columns propping up the ground above. Latin Americans give it the nickname “The Tree That Walks” because of the “feet” it uses to grow. Its pillars are like arms via which it spreads its branches to reach new areas, either to soak up more of the sun’s rays or to find more nutrient-rich soil.
Most intriguingly, the Tree of San Marcos is not really a tree. There are a number of trees.
Ral Ospino Rangel, a historian, provides a splandid explanation of how the green blob came to be.
In 1964, the farmer who owned the Alejandra farm decided he needed to do something to safeguard a yellow cedar tree he had planted. In order to protect the tender cedar seedling from the cattle, six fig tree rods were arranged around it.
Instead of providing support for the cedar tree, the fig tree’s struts sprang forth buds and then branches that eventually engulfed and killed the yellow cedar.
In other words, the “Giant Fig of San Marcos” is not a single plant at all but rather a cluster of six, held together and fortified by aerial roots that extend from the tops of the plants to the ground below.
If you find yourself in San Marcos on Colombia’s Atlantic coast, visit “The Most Beautiful Tree in Colombia” and be engulfed by its gloomy limbs. In fact, you can catch your first view of the enormous “green mountain” around three kilometers before you reach the Alejandra farm.
Within the shelter of this tree’s limbs, one feels both vulnerable and empowered. We pray it will last for many years to come.