Macugnaga lime tree

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

Tilia platyphyllos (Tiliaceae)

In the splendid setting of the eastern side of Mount Rosa, next to the church and the small cemetery of Macugnaga (VCO), there’s a lime tree which has been growing for over 500 years.

This magnificent specimen is in very precarious phytosanitary conditions and requires periodic and constant monitoring. The trunk looks damaged by wood decay and is hollow, as well as some of the five main branches; despite this major problem, the tree continues to survive undaunted.
In recent years, several interventions have been carried out such as thorough pruning, to resize the crown, and the installation of tie rods to rebalance the tree stability.

In May 2018, unfortunately, a part of the trunk collapsed to the ground, leaving the hollow interior of the tree totally exposed.
According to tradition, once upon a time, community meetings were held under this brave lime tree to make important decisions.

A very powerful legend surrounds this magical monumental tree: it’s that of the “Gotwiarghini good workers”, the gnomes with inverted feet who lived in the foliage of the lime tree. One day, after being teased by a child, they decided to disappear, never to be seen again and thus stopping to dispense precious advice to the locals.

How to get there:

Travel along the highway to the Simplon Pass, then take the Piedimulera exit and reach the hamlet of Staffa (in the municipality of Macugnaga). From there, travelling along the valley on via Chiesa Vecchia, you reach the town of Dorf, where the centuries-old lime tree grows near the cemetery.

Botanical Card:

The local lime is a European-Caucasian species and it is widespread in mountain areas of central and southern Europe.
This species never forms pure woods but tends to grow near heliophilic and sciaphilous broad-leaved trees, while usually thriving along with beeches in the humid mountain woods.

The local lime tree may reach up to 3.937 ft in the northern parts of Italy, while 4.593 ft is its absolute record in Sicily.
It prefers fresh, deep, neutral, sub-alkaline and alkaline soils, as long as they are well-drained.
In the juvenile stages, it suffers a lot from drought and intense or prolonged cold spells of time.

The dried flowers, bark, sap and wood are rich in essential oils, mucilage, tannins and manganese and for this reason they are used in herbal medicine.

The inner part of the bark is very fibrous: it was once used to make mats and ropes.
The wood is soft, light and resistant; it is currently used in cabinet making, fine carpentry and in model making.

The local lime is considered a soil-improving species, as the fallen leaves decompose quickly, making the soil extremely fertile.

Photo source:

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)


28876 Macugnaga(VB)

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