Botanic Notables: The Ancient Cypress of Saint Francis

January 13, 2012
Submitted by admin

Saint Francis of Assisi is surrounded with stories of his legendary sway over nature: the spellbound birds, the tamed wolf, the obeisant fish. That's not all—the people of Rimini, Italy, will tell you that the patron saint of animals and ecology also spoke to the trees—at least, to a cypress tree (Cupressus sempervirens) that grows in the hilltop city of Verucchio. It is 800 years old—one of the oldest cypress trees in Europe—and, it is said, improbably grown by Saint Francis himself. Today, the ancient cypress still stands in the cloister that emerged around the tree.