How old is an ahuehuete?

The ahuehuete is a tree native to Mexico that is characterized by its great size, longevity and incredible beauty. The word ahuehuete comes from the Nahuatl language and its translation would be "old from the water". The trunk of the ahuehuete is enormous and can measure up to 14 meters in diameter and up to 40 meters in height. The leaves of this spectacular tree are perennial, meaning they are kept throughout the year. Although the ahuehuete does not produce flowers, it does produce a kind of oval pineapple. Life expectancy of ahuehuete.

As we have said before, ahuehuetes are very long-lived trees, as they can reach the age of 500 years. Despite being a very long tree, the ahuehuete is not by far the tree with the longest life expectancy. There are millenary trees like the impressive Tagus of Llangernyw (Wales) that have reached over 4000 years of life. An extraordinary figure for a plant species. The leaves of the ahuehuete are kept in the tree throughout the year, are arranged in a spiral and are located in two horizontal rows superimposed. The leaves of these centenary trees are very small, they are approximately two centimeters wide and two long. The pineapples that produce the ahuehuetes are almost spherical and are about 2 centimeters long and two centimeters wide.

Taxodium huegelii, whose common names are cypress Moctezuma, ahuehué or ahuehuete, sabino or Mexican cypress, is a tree species belonging to the Taxodiaceae family. It is typical of Mexico, although it is also found in very localized areas of south Texas and northwest Guatemala.

In 1921, to celebrate the centenary of Mexican independence, it was selected as a national tree for its splendor, beauty, longevity, colossal dimensions and tradition. From pre-Hispanic times to these trees have been attributed sacred qualities, and have been part of legends and the history of diverse populations and different places.


The name "ahuehuete" comes from the Nahuatl āhuēhuētl which means "old tree of water", because it grows in places where the water abounds. It can also be translated as "tree that never ages" coming from "a", a negation that means "no" or "never" and "huehuetl" meaning "to grow old." "A" of ahuehuete comes from the nahuatl "atl", which means: water.

It is also called penhamu in the Tarasco language of Michoacan. In fact the names of Pénjamo in Guanajuato and Penjamillo in Michoacán mean the place of the ahuehuetes trees. There are many other communities that take their name from the tree ahuehuete.

Tule Tree 

The Tule Tree is the tree with the largest trunk diameter in the world. It is an ahuehuete (Taxodium mucronatum) with a cup circumference of approximately 58 meters and a height of 42 meters. With a trunk diameter of 14.05 meters, it is estimated that at least 30 people would be necessary with their hands intertwined to be able to cover it and in their shade will fit about 500 people. Locals have found different shapes to the trunk such as 'elf', 'crocodile', 'dolphin', 'deer head', among others. Its volume is estimated at about 816 829 m³, weighing approximately 636 Tonnes, when the cut of inert wood was started in 1996, 10 tonnes were produced. It is located in the atrium of the church of Santa Maria del Tule in Oaxaca, Mexico, approximately 12 km from the state capital, Oaxaca de Juárez, on the road to Mitla.

Its actual age is unknown, but according to estimates it is over 2000 years.

Health status and conservation 

In 1990 several reports and reports4 indicated that the health of the Tule Tree was seriously threatened by traffic, pollution and lack of protection. According to this news, archaeologist John Paddock, an expert in Oaxaca, then said that the tree would live no more than 50 years if no urgent measures were taken for its protection. In November 2011 a Spanish company made a technical report on the health of the tree. It indicates that general health is good, but also several recommendations and actions are taken to protect this unique tree in the world. Other reports have been less optimistic, saying that for its conservation would require a deep cleaning, the Fungus removal and sanitary pruning, in addition to abandoning the deep perforations that affect its water supply.

For its preservation and protection, this majestic tree has not only been recognized by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) as the largest hoehuete in the country, but was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003.

El Tule in the culture of Oaxaca 

The Zapotec legend claims that it was planted about 1400 years ago by Pechocha, a priest of Ehécatl, god of the wind. Another legend says that some leaders of the great nations met and decided to separate into groups, going to the four cardinal points and in each one planted ahuehuetes, the great Tule would be one of them. It tends to affirm that its location is a Sacred site, then occupied by the Church.

"Tule" stands for 'Tree of Illumination'. One of the main characteristics of the tree of the Tule is that the inhabitants of the population have found different types of figures such as the head of the deer, the lion's head, an elephant, crocodile, among many other figures, which are taught to Tourists for the children of the community who come to learn English to be able to provide better service to foreign tourists.

At the end of the 19th century, the great Tule tree suffered due to a shortage of water. This has not been repeated since the first quarter of the 20th century, since it is regularly watered and properly pruned.The second Monday in October is the day of the Tree of the Tule, this day is dedicated to the tree and has its own party where they usually burn rockets and lights, also the traditional "toritos" or turkeys that are managed by the spectators who Excited to the place to load one.



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