How the Tree Got Its Name
Yesterday was our first official day of spring weather! (If you’re from Canada, you learn that the calendar’s version of the beginning of spring is often vastly different than the weather’s version of the beginning of spring, so when it actually happens to almost line up, we celebrate by packing away our parkas and show off our very best in light sweater finery.)
To continue celebrating in the nerdiest way possible, I’ve got some pretty awesome tidbits about spring’s favorite little trooper: THE TREES*!
- In almost every culture, trees are known as sacred. The words ‘tree’ and ‘truth’ both share a common root treow (and yes, I can’t say the word ‘treow’ without thinking that it’s the noise some tree-cat hybrid would make). Tree-owww!
- The oak tree was known as one of Thor’s favorites – prompting the ancient saying ‘Beware of an oak, it draws the smoke’ because people were so often hit by lightning (Thunder is named after Thor) while standing next to these massive trees. The word ‘druid’ is actually thought to derive from the Gaelic word for oak tree, ‘darach’.
- The cacao tree was named by Carl Linnaeus (who pretty much named darn near everything in his day), as Theobroma cacao. Translate that from Greek and you’ve got ‘theos’ which means ‘a god’, and ‘broma’, meaning ‘food’. Hence, ‘food of the gods.’ He knew what he was talking about too, as it didn’t take too long for humans to realize just how awesome chocolate was and they started using cacao seeds as money. Nowadays we just barter for the chocolate pudding in school lunches.
- There is a tree called ‘monkey puzzle’.
It is called ‘monkey puzzle’ because once, in 1834, a lawyer named Charles Austin was inspecting the prickly leaves and said ‘It would be a puzzle for a monkey!’
I can’t make this stuff up.
* For more tree history, check out LIVES OF THE TREES: AN UNCOMMON HISTORY, by Diana Wells. It has more tree histories than you could shake a stick at.