Tree of the Year

The votes have been tallied and the people’s choice winner for France’s tree of the year is an ancient zamana tree in Martinique. This island is an overseas department of France, and though I am sure there are many fabulous and fashionable Parisian trees, they would have a hard time competing with this tropical giant. It is over 300 years old, more than 8 feet in diameter, with foliage covering nearly 2 1/2 acres.
This Albizia saman is also known as the rain tree, because the leaves fold in to avoid rain, opening up when the sun comes back out. The tree gets lots of exercise in its rainy home! It is found at Habitation Ceron, named for the river that once powered the sugar mill wheel of the 17th century plantation that is now an ecotourism destination. Years ago it sheltered coffee and cocoa trees, but these days it mainly shelters tourists like me from rain and the fierce Caribbean sun.
I love the idea of voting for trees, based on both history and esthetics. It brings attention to the amazing beauty that stands silent all around us. Every country should have a tree contest, though to me all trees are definitely winners! I enjoyed exploring this one from many angles, captivated by the delicate arch of its branches, and the tranquility of living even for a short time at the pace of trees.