Travel

Old trees in Pingshan

2018-07-18

Pingshan District is home to 153 old trees, which are mainly banyans, trees of camphors, longans and mangoes. Over 20 trees are thought to be more than 200 years old while eight are aged between 80 and 99.

The banyan king

On the side of Pangu road, a towering banyan is often mistaken for a small forest from a distance because of its luxuriant and thick crown on the top. Numerous branches are covered by clusters of green leaves without leaving any blank space in between. The dazzling green rustles in the sun as if it is waving at passers by.

Residents in the community call the tree " Dawangye" (The King) for its longevity and auspiciousness. Although the root is rotten in the middle, the gnarled branches are full of life. The root is protected by tiles and walls all around with statues of various gods on the stump. The incense rises in the sky with different kinds of sacrifices arranged in order.

When it comes to be the first, the fifteenth and the winter solstice day according to Chinese Lunar calendar, residents in Xikeng community group bring fruit to pay tribute to the god under the banyan in the morning, praying for the health and safety of their families while people in North China celebrate by making dumplings.

The most beautiful thing about the banyan is its entangled roots, some of which hang on branches. These roots grow incessantly downwards into the soil and form new branches.

The Hakka people like planting Fengshui trees, which are believed to possess their own souls. Residents along with other outsiders come to show their respect and reverence to these trees.

362-year-old banyan

Among the 62 old trees in Kengzi, the banyans are the majority. The oldest banyan in Kengzi stands in Lizhong village in Shatian community. At 19.5 meters in height, 8 meters in circumference and 25 meters in range of crown, the banyan dates back to Emperor Shunzhi in the Qing dynasty.

In spite of the wrinkled bark, the banyan grows exuberantly with stout trunks. A round memorial platform is built below the root. A shrine with a censor is put in the middle with vivid statues of divine animals to protect the tree, such as a dancing unicorn, jumping dragon and screaming horse.

The domineering and rough manner has surpassed other trees nearby. Obscured by the huge crown on top, the sunshine pours down through the gap between the dense green, leaving dead leaves on the ground. The branches are decorated with prayer flags, which are often seen in Tibetan areas.

Camphor trees forest

A large stretch of camphor trees, once jointly owned by Shangliao village and Xialiao village, have protected six generations of the clan, surnamed Liao in Kengzi.

A 50-year-old resident said that no one is allowed to damage or fell the magic trees, which are believed to bring them good luck and have been revered for generations. Even when the clan was badly short of firewood 20 years ago, the trees were well preserved. More than 200 clan members live happily around the country

Since the 1990s, one third of the trees have died due to being poorly preserved. There are more than 80 camphor trees in the forest, 18 of which date back at least a century.