The girth of trees in Latvia is measured in 1,3 metres height above the soil. Diameter of tree (diameter at breast height) for noble trees is not measured due to low accuracy and controversy of this parameter. There is taken in account the environment arount the tree - f.e. if a tree is growing on slope, tree is measured at the highest side. Only if below the 1,3 metre height a tree has got more narrow trunk it is measured lover. Trees which have grown together are not considered to be a single tree - although in practice it is hard to distinguish such cases from single trees.
Below is a table of record-holders of common local tree species regarding their girth (1):
|Name of tree||Species||Girth (m)||Height (m)||Address|
|Kaive Senci oak (3 - images)||Quercus robur||10,3||19||Tukums district, Seme municipality, in Kaive near Senci|
|Indani lime (two trees grown together?)||Tilia cordata||9,35 (at 0,3 m height)||21,5||Jekabpils district, Garsene municipality, Indani village, Darzini farmstead|
|Dzenisi white willow (actually not a local species) (3 - images)||Salix alba||8,8 (below the height of 1 m)||23||Aluksne district, Ape rural area, at Dzenisi farmstead|
|Sasmaka Idol lime (Valdemarpils Idol lime) (3 - images)||Tilia cordata||8,33 (at the 0,3 m height)||26||Talsi district, Valdemarpils rural area, Sasmaka park|
|Keiri European white elm (3 - images)||Ulmus laevis||7,1||25||Kuldiga district, Pelci municipality, near Keiri farmstead|
|Ciemites wych elm (3 - images)||Ulmus glabra||6,3||25||Talsi district, Lauciene municipality, near Ciemites|
|Medzeri ash||Fraxinus excelsior||6,3||25||Talsi district, Dundaga municipality, Medzeri farmstead|
|Rutinas Norway maple (3 - images)||Acer platanoides||6,15||26||Valka district, Trikata municipality, near Rutinas farmstead|
|Dainas black alder||Alnus glutinosa||4,7 (measured below 1,3 metres)||14||Kuldiga district, Rudbarzi municipality, near Dainas|
|Allas Scots pine||Pinus sylvestris||4,4||24||Ventspils district, Usma municipality, near Stende River|
|Sausupji silver birch (3 - images)||Betula pendula or Betula verrucosa||4,32||22||Tukums district, Smarde municipality, near Sausupji|
|Ive Norway spruce (3 - images)||Picea abies||3,8||32||Talsi district, Ive municipality, Ive park|
|Ciemgali crabapple||Malus sylvestris||3,48||11,5||Kuldiga district, Turlava municipality, near ruins of Ciemgali farmstead|
|Rieteklis common juniper, Balozi common juniper (3 - images)||Juniperus communis||2,9||9,3||Valmiera district, Valmiera municipality, near Balozi farmstead|
|Zentene yew (3 - images)||Taxus baccata||2,55||12,5||Tukums district, Zentene municipality, near Zentene palace|
Data in table have been obtained from source (1) and are comparatively topical. It is harder to find a unified information regarding other local species of trees - measurements have taken place in different times and there is possibility that trees mentioned below have perished.
In studies of noble trees for most part there is not determined species of noble birch trees. While it is well known that the thickest birch tree in Latvia is silver birch (Betula pendula Roth. or Betula verrucosa Ehrh.), author has got no confidence regarding the thickest downy birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh.). It is possible that the largest downy birch in Latvia is a birch tree near Veji in Birzgale municipality, Ogre district - a measurement from 1998 testifies that the circuit of this tree at the height of 0,6 metres was 4,2 metres - it divides in three trunks upwards (2).
One of the rarest local trees in Latvia is common hornbeam (Carpinus betulus L.) - in Latvia it is up to 3,04 metres in circuit (hornbeam in front of Pope park, measured in 1993) (2) and 2,8 metres (Cirava park, measured in 1993) (2).
Thickest known European pear (Pyrus communis subsp. pyraster L .or Pyrus pyraster L.) is Kandava pear - circuit of this tree is 2,95 metres (3 - image).
Thickest bird cherry (Prunus padus var. padus L. or Padus avium L.) could be a bird cherry near Svinkani in Ropazi region, Riga district - at the height of 0,5 metres the circuit is 4,5 metres (2.).
European rowan (Sorbus aucuparia L.) near Anuzi in Dundaga municipality (Talsi district) has got 2,12 metres circuit (2). Another large rowan is Spinduli rowan in Skujene municipality, Cesis district - circuit of this tree is 1,5 metres (3 - image). Swedish whitebeam (Sorbus intermedia (Ehrh.) Pers.) is less common but it grows into larger trees. Largest known tree of this species in Latvia is Liellauks whitebeam in Ceraukste municipality, Bauska district - circuit of this beautiful tree at the height of 0,8 metres is 2,36 metres. (3 - images). Other local species of tree-form whitebeams are rock whitebeam (Sorbus rupicola (Syme) Hedl.), Finnish whitebeam (Sorbus x hybrida L.), Theodor whitebeam (Sorbus teodori Liljef.) - these trees are rare and not large.
Researchers of noble trees are not keen to find maximum size of grey alder (Alnus incana (L.) Moench) as this tree has got short life and grey alder of large size most likely will live just a few years. Due to similar reasons there are not known too many large aspens (Populus tremula L.) although this tree grows up to enormous size. Thus, for example Kraukli aspen in Andrupene municipality, Kraslava district reaches 5,62 metres circuit (4).
Goat willow (Salix caprea L.) near Ormkalni farmstead in Aizpute municipality, Liepaja district has got a circuit of 2,8 metres (2). There is not known largest sand dune willow (Salix daphnoides Vill.), bay willow (Salix pentandra L.), crack willow (Salix fragilis L.) - all these species can have a form of trees.
A form of small tree may take also several species of hawthorns, most of them are very rare, These species are Daugava hawthorn (Crataegus x dunensis Cinovskis), Kurzeme hawthorn (Crataegus x curonica Cinovskis), Lindman's hawthorn (Crataegus lindmanii Hrabetová), oblique hawthorn (Crataegus plagiosepala Pojark.), German hawthorn (Crataegus alemanniensis Cinovskis), Crataegus rhipidophylla Gand.. These species are hard to distinguish, maximum size has not been studied.
One more local species can take a form of tree - blackthorn (Prunus spinosa L.). This plant for most part grows in form of small bush.
There is introduced enormous number of foreign tree species and these trees sometimes reach enormous size. Table lists some of the known largest examples of introduced tree species:
|Jelgava poplar (3 - image)||Populus x canadiensis||6,2||28,5||Jelgava, J.Asara Street 5|
|Sprestini silver maple (3)||Acer saccharinum||5,5||20,5||Valmiera district, Dikli municipality, Sprestini manor park|
|Aizpute purple European beach (3 - images)||Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea Latifolia'||5,5||20,5||Liepaja district, Aizpute, Jana Street 4|
|Vilzeni European larch (3 - image)||Larix decdua||4,6||33,0||Limbazi district, Braslava municipality, Vilzeni manor park|
|Ivande silver fir (3 - images)||Abies alba||4,48||38,0||Kuldiga district, Ivande municipality, Lielivande manor park|
|Billites horse-chestnut (3)||Aesculus hippocastanum||4,2 (at the height of 0,4 metres)||13||Jelgava district, Sidrabene municipality, near Billites farmstead|
|Kanalmala ginkgo (3 - images)||Ginkgo biloba||3,1||13||Riga, Centrs, in front of Latvian University|
Introduced trees of other species also reach enormous size, f.e. white poplar (Populus alba L.) in Astaseva (Kastulina municipality, Kraslava district) with 7 metres circuit (2), butternut (Juglans cinerea L.) near Kapkalni (Keipene municipality in Ogre district) (3,9 m) (9) and Manchurian walnut (Juglans mandshurica Maxim.) in the park of Kemeri sanatorium (3,58 m) (6, 3 - images).
Near Durbe manor house (Tukums) there is growing eastern white pine (Pinus strobus L.) with circuit - 3,18 metres (8). Unusual European black pine (Pinus nigra) near former Dube manor (outskirts of Bauska town) has got a circuit of 3 metres (3 - image).
Wild cherry (Cerasus avium (L.) Moench) near Ligupe sluice gate in Rucava municipality, Liepaja district had a circuit of 2,5 metres - unfortunately the tree wilted in 1997 (7).
Dotted hawthorns (Crataegus punctata Jacq.) in Arce park (Ceraukste municipality in Bauska district) and Mazstraupe park (Straupe municipality in Cesis district) reach circuit of 1,1 metres (2).
Unusually large rhododenron (Rhododendron) was growing in Vecmokas (Kili) cemetery, Tukums district. Unfortunately it perished - due to some misunderstanding it was sawn during the clean up of the cemetery. Unusual tree is also European spindle (Euonymus europaea L.) in Upesmuiza park (Pavilosta, Liepaja district) - this tree has got three stems, largest stem has got circuit of 0,85 metres, height - 6 metres (2).
Search for noble trees became a popular pastime in Latvia some 30 - 40 years ago and there were discovered thousands of noble trees. Time is relentless and for the whole time there is ongoing sad process - largest trees of Latvia perish one after another and lesser known trees become record-holders instead. This testifies that there were even larger trees in Latvia in past.
Most intriguing is the evidence of giant Simaneni sacred oaks. Here, at the steep bank of Gauja, in Valmiera municipality still is standing enormous oak - it's trunk has got a circuit of 8,2 metres. But this most likely was the smallest of three exceptional sacred trees and there was a Paganic stone altar at these trees until the middle of 20th century. One of the two other trees was that enormous that only 7 people could envelop its trunk (3). Such "unit of measurement" is very rough - but we can assume that the circuit could exceed 11 metres.
There was standing enormous Scotts pine near Kannenieki farmstead in Jerceni municipality, Valmiera district up to Soviet time. Technical director of Monument Board Arturs Stals wrote (1924) that the circuit of the trunk was 7 metres but photograph of tree shows a tree which could be 5 - 6 metres large (1, 3).
There is evidence that the circuit of white willow in Latvia could reach up to 10 - 12 metres and this was not a simple tree. In accordance with the investigator of local history Davis Bozis (1848 - 1918) near Putrinas farmstead in Valmiera Veidmuizas there was standing an enormous sacred willow where people made sacrifices up to 1860ies (1).
Just a few years ago there was still alive Ladzere (Osi) European white elm in Vandzene municipality, Talsi district - circuit of its trunk reached 7,8 metres (1, 3 - images). This tree was weakened with arson and fell in storm of January 2005.
The highest measured tree in Latvia is Sautas kalns Norway spruce in Nurmizi strict nature reserve, Sigulda region, Riga district. The trunk of tree is 3,04 m in girth, height - 45,2 metres (1, 3 - images). There is no data which would testify that there has existed any higher tree in Latvia although there have been mentioned somewhat higher, now perished Scots pines in Tervete. It is possible that in deep, wild, fertile ravines of Gauja and its tributaries there are higher trees. For comparison - height of Soviet time 16-floor block house is 40 metres (10) - this spruce is 5,2 metres higher!
The highest measured oak was growing in Dizstende park, Talsi district (1). It was 32 metres high, circumference - 5,18 metres. Tree fell during the storm of January 2005. Currently the highest known oak is The Long Münchhausen Oak in Liepupe municipality, Limbazi district. It is 31 metres high (1).
The highest known lime stands in Berzaine (Berzaine municipality in Valmiera district) - tree is 32 metres high, circuit of trunk - 5,3 metres, projection of crown - 140 m2.
The highest known wych elm is Istra wych elm in Istra municipality, Ludza district. This outstanding tree is 30 metres high, circuit of trunk - 6,15 metres, projection of crown - 350 m2.
The highest known birch stands in Purciems near the sea, Talsi district, Roja municipality. Height of this tree - 30 metres, circuit - 2,95 metres, projection of crown - 280 m2. It is possible that many birch trees are higher than this (1).
The highest known ash stands at the foot of Slitere Blue mountain steep, Talsi district, Dundaga municipality. Height of this tree is 33 metres, girth of trunk - 4,9 metres (1).
The highest known black alder stands in Ramava (Depkin) manor park in Kekava municipality, outskirts of Riga. The height of this outstanding tree is 30 metres, girth - 4 metres, this girth is maintained through significant height of monolithic tree (1).
The highest known Scotts pine stands in Tervete pine forest, Dobele district - measurements by Ansis Opmanis testify that this tree is 41,5 metres high, girth - 2,95 metres, crown projection - 90 m2 (1).
The highest known juniper stands near Kapusils forester farmstead in Launkalne municipality, Valka district. Height of this beautiful tree is 13,0 metres, girth - 0,8 metres (1).
The highest measured crabapple is record-holder also regarding girth and crown projection - Ciemgali crabapple in Turlava municipality, Kuldiga district. Height of this tree - 11,5 metres.
Widest known tree in Latvia is oak in Meri park, Bilska municipality, Valka district (1). The projection of crown is 820 m2 - what rougly corresponds to the area of two basketball fields (area of one basketball field - 420 m2). Width of the crown of this beautiful tree is 34 metres, girth of trunk - 5,4 metres, height - 27 metres (1).
Widest lime up to 2007 was standing in the courtyard of Lazdinas farmstead, Uguni village, Vandzene municipality, Talsi district - projection of the crown was 500 m2 (1). Width of crown reached 26 metres.
Widest known birch is Zemenes birch in Libagi municipality, Talsi district - width of the crown is 22 metres, projection of crown - 370 m2. This is second largest tree in Latvia, its girth - 3,84 metres (1, 3 - images).
Widest known ash is Zileni ash in Platone municipality, Jelgava district - projection of tree crown is 540 m2 (1).
Widest known black alder is Liepaja black alder in Raina parks - projection of tree crown is 320 m2, girth of trunk - 4,2 metres (1).
Widest juniper in Latvia is the beautiful Ozenieki juniper in Deksare municipality, Rezekne district - width of crown - 5,8 metres, height of tree - 11,4 metres (1).
Widest crabtree is the record-holder of girth - Ciemgali crabapple in Turlava municipality, Kuldiga district. Projection of tree crown is - 130 m2 (1).
Unusual and outstanding tree up to recent time was Rucava Lejas bird cherry - largest trunk of this tree had a girth of 2,5 metres. Unfortunately this beautiful tree fell down some years ago and left a growth of its offshoots which also have reached a size of trees. This growth is surrounding Lejas sacred spring (3, - images).
In earlier times in Latvia and in many places around the world - up to this time - trees are evaluated according to their age and not according to their size. But it has been proven that the age of noble trees which is announced with proud and authoritative voices of countless tour guides is just a myth. Age of a tree can not be told by its size - even approximately. Conditions of growth and different coincidences lead to very significant differences of age among trees of the same size. The age of noble trees is even harder to tell as they are approaching to the end of their lives and core of their trunks has grown mouldy - thus even instrumental methods can not help here. Thus - if you hear that a tour guide proudly tells to you that the age of some tree is 1000 years - most likely it is an unconscious but carefully sustained myth and the real age of tree could be 300 years or... may be 1000 years. Simply - nobody has tested and proved it.
Thus also in Latvia step by step from newspapers and tourism booklets there have disappeared texts about thousand-year oaks and measurable figures are used instead. Just in exceptional cases it has been possible to tell the real age of the noble trees and in a case of Latvia it does not approach to 1000 years. The age of the largest tree in Latvia - Kaive Senci oak with its 10,3 metres large trunk - could be around 400 years.
A well documented testimony of the disparity between the size and age of tree is oldest known Scotts pines in Latvia. Up to recent times the oldest known Scotts pine in Latvia was legendary Zauska pine - as it died, its well-preserved trunk was thoroughly investigated - pine was 370 years old. Zauska pine still is the largest measured Scotts pine in Latvia - its trunk had a girth of 4,63 metres (1). Ornithologist Maris Strazds found a 470 years old Scotts pine in Serdes moor, Valle municipality, Aizkraukle district in 2003. Girth of this tree was 117 centimetres, height - 16 metres (1). So far this is the oldest tree with measured age in Latvia.
Oldest exactly dated trees in Latvia are both Glück oaks in Aluksne town. These trees grow next to each other and are planted 323 and 319 years ago. Both still have not reached the size of state protected noble trees - their girth is 4,85 m and 4,5 m (1). The oldest tree is planted in the year when Old Testament was translated into Latvian, the youngest - respectively in the year of translation of New Testament.
The highest aerial roots has got Mazirbe Pine of Werewolves in Kolka municipality, Talsi district - one can go under the roots of this pine without bending - they are some 2 metres above the soil (1). This has got not just a statistical meaning - according to mythology of Latvians and Livs one should crawl naked under the roots of tree in new moon - then it is possible to turn into werewolf. Thus Mazirbe Pine of Werewolves is especially comfortable for werewolves.
Most popular noble tree traditionally is assumed Turaida Rose lime - major part of those 300 000 tourists which visit the unbelievably beautiful Turaida Museum Reserve are visiting this legendary tree as well. Girth of lime - 6,3 metres (1).
Most rapidly growing large tree with exactly dated year of planting could be Villija oak in Variesi municipality, Jekabpils district. This tree has been planted in 1949. In 2008 the girth of this tree reached 3,76 metres (1).
ⓒ 2009 Gatis Pavils