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Majella Wilderness hosts ancient black pine

An extraordinary black pine of more than 900-year old is growing in Majella Wilderness, embedded in Majella National Park in Italy. The pine could survive that many centuries because it was hidden in a remote, inaccessible ravine, far away from human settlements. Growing in an extensive Majella mountain labyrinth, this pine has escaped from the exploratory interest of local people, foresters and mountain explorers.

Survival in an inaccessible locality

The steep, narrow ravine where the pine lives can only be reached with mountaineering equipment and techniques. Out of sight in the bottom of the ravine the black pine is clinging to the overhanging wall. It seems as if it was saying “I was here for several centuries and if you let me untouched, I will be here for many more”.

However, studying history, it seems that despite current inaccessibility people know the tree well. Since the ancient times it is known as the object of pagan cult, sacred histories, legends, hatreds and sonnets of local culture.

Legend talks

According to legends in former times, the pine trunk was a symbol of fertility because of its phallic shape. For a pagan religion the black pine was a subject of deep piety. Wide rank of myths and stories developed around this pine. But only a few people ever saw the tree and that mysticism inspired poets and storytellers over many centuries.

Finally, a group of ecologists and experts of the Majella National Park authority decided to focus their research on this pine. The aim was to prove the existence and uniqueness of this tree from a scientific point of view.

Majella Wilderness Audit Ban Pine 2018-21066.jpg - European Wilderness Society - CC NonCommercial-NoDerivates 4.0 International
A more than 900-year old black pine is growing in Majella Wilderness

Challenge of field work

Easier to say than to implement. The research was not easy. Just to reach the ravine that descend from the “Cima delle Stretta” in the “Val Serviera” was extremely demanding and challenging. The researches needed support by a group of climbers.

Finally, after the demanding field work the reward was the pine. The team confirmed that the stories about this pine are based on true ones. Following the research did not only confirm that this legendary pine really exist but also that the tree survived over the time. And that just because of the inaccessibility and extreme remote location.

Black Pines are unique tree

Pine trees (the genus Pinus) are historically very old, much older that broadleaf trees. Pines generally occupy and survive in very extreme locality and are well known due to their longevity.

Nowadays most pines do play a crucial role as important trees also from the commercial perspective. They are often cultivated in commercial forests and monocultures. Some of them are rather fast-growing and do have a more or less straight trunk, in which the wood industry has an interest in. Pinus can grow on acid, calcareous or sandy soils. That makes them a suitable ‘alternative’ for sites which are impropriate for other tree species.

Majella Wilderness

The Majella Wilderness hosts many and very attractive phenomena. This oldest pine of the Apennines mountain is however one of the most important. But the pine surrounding are breath-taking, beautiful mountains. Those are containing a wide spectrum of various forest habitats and the Apennines mountain ecosystems.

Besides the unique pine Majella Wilderness contains a high biodiversity. In addition it contains a wide spectrum of species which are typical for the Mediterranean mountains. For example such as the Pinus mugo, wildcats, chamois, wolf, and alpine aster. Majella Wilderness is the first certified Wilderness in Italy. It is well known due to spectacular mountain scenery, deep canyons, extensive beech forests and wild mountain tops.

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