Tue, Feb 07, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Artists celebrate return of ancient tree to public view

By Tung Chen-kuo and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Artists from Nantou County’s Puli area paint the 1,261-year-old bishop wood tree on Friday.

Photo: Tung Chen-kuo, Taipei Times

Local artists in Nantou County’s Puli Township (埔里) on Friday held a painting event for a 1,261-year-old bishop wood (Bischofia javanica) tree, which is now open for public visits following the acquisition of land it stands on by a new owner.

Located on the township’s Nanan Road, the tree was analyzed in 1985 by a National Taiwan University research team that estimated it at 1,229 years old.

It is 17m high, has a diameter of 3.92m at its widest point and a circumference of 12.3m, local residents said.

Its longevity has led to its deification, with local residents building a small temple at its feet.

As the tree was previously on privately held land, the Nantou County Government was unable to maintain it, despite the tree being listed as protected.

A hostel owner in nearby Yuchih Township (魚池) named Wu Tsung-hsien (吳宗憲) later bought the land it stands on and removed the previous buildings.

Wu has only recently opened the plot of land for public visits.

Wu visited the tree in August last year, but was unable to gain access, the self-described tree enthusiast said, adding that he left with the feeling that there was something gnawing away at him.

Wu said he felt it that it was the tree’s will that he must buy the land so the public could have access to it again.

The tree needs help, as it has many parasites and parts of its trunk are eroding, Wu said, adding that he would like to see the tree taken better care of.

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