TREES TELL US THE HISTORY

Until 2012 in the Valle del Biviere (in the “Grotta di Santa Ninfa” nature reserve) there was an imposing umbrella-shaped tree that dominated the underlying vineyards: a large domestic pine about 18 meters high and with an equal circumference to 4 m.

In 2010 the tree was struck by lightning. Despite the wound, for another 2 years the large tree was silent witness of the activities carried out in the places and imposing presence in the landscape; but in the first months of 2012 it began to gradually tilt, to suddenly break down in April.

 

Through the analysis of the trunk section, conducted by the Department of Arboreal Cultures of the University of Palermo through a dendrochronological study, it was possible to identify the date of birth of the tree (1915) and therefore its age (97 years).

In addition, the growth rings corresponding to some important events in the history of man in the 1900s, which our stone pine witnessed, have been identified in the tree trunk, including:

– 1915-18: the first World War;

– 1922: birth of the first national park in Italy, the Gran Paradiso;

– 1928: discovery of pennicillin

– 1940-45: the Second World War;

– 1946: the birth of the Italian Republic;

– 1953: the discovery of DNA;

– 1968: the earthquake of the Belice Valley;

– 1969: man lands on the moon;

– 1978: the death of Peppino Impastato;

– 1989: the fall of the Berlin Wall;

– 1995: the “Grotta di Santa Ninfa” nature reserve was established;

 

Dendrochronology

The term “dendrochronology” comes from the Greek: “dendron”, which means “tree”, “cronos”, which means “time” and “logos”, which means speech. So dendrochronology is the science that has as its objective the reconstruction of time, through the study of trees.

Dendrochronology is based on the count and analysis of the annual growth rings of tree trunks, in relation to an important principle: a certain species in a certain geographical area is characterized by the constant growth of the rings, whose thicknesses change in in relation to the alternation of the various seasons and to particular events related to the environment in which the tree itself is located.

The first phase of the dendrochronological investigation consists in taking wood samples, both from living trees and from ancient woods. For each individual tree, a diagram (dendrochronological curve) is then obtained which indicates the thickness of the rings over the years.