In the upcoming period I will try to provide an extra shot of vitamins to counterbalance the extraordinary times we live in at the moment by showing the most gorgeous trees. In this post, I would like to introduce the Stufenlinde of Grettstadt! An eccentric pleached tree formed with ten floors. Since 1752, this tree defines the front image of the townhall of the municipality of Grettstadt in Germany. This tree belongs to the honour class of pleached trees. Where would we be without trees? Read, watch and enjoy facts about this amazing tree

Grettstadt’s Stufenlinde caters to my pleached tree fetishism, just as the Tanzlinde of Peesten from my previous blog. This tree is a multiple floor linden by which people have for generations transferred the art of forming and maintaining pleached trees. As a Dutchman, this is hard to imagine in our highly cultivated landscape that turns upside down every thirty years. We even have to update our navigation every year! Yes, I know there are more modern systems, but this reflects our passionate renewal behaviour and trees fit hardly into this.

You will find the Stufenlinde of Grettstadt in the municipality of Grettstadt, Schweinfurt district, state of Bayern (Germany). Despite the fact that Grettstadt has its own municipality, you should not expect this tree to be in a big town. Grettstadt is a small village with over 4000 inhabitants. In the Hauptstraße the Stufenlinde is part of a particular setting together with the authentic half-timbered townhall (1590), and the Catholic Saint Paul and Paul Langhaus church (1766). A beautiful historic setting with typical German buildings and a sense of traditional atmosphere.

The Stufenlinde is a broad leafed lime, Tilia platyphyllos. “Stufen” means floors or levels in German. Well, this tree has multiple floors; no less than ten floors run pyramidally forming the frame of its unique appearance. The tree is in good shape and regularly, if not annually, completely pollarded. All floors are equally vital and in perfect balance with the chosen shape. In fact, according to growth rules, it is necessary to reduce leaf mass in the upper parts of the canopy to maintain equivalent leaf, twig and thickening of branches. Out of the many pleached floor- or layered trees I have visited, wooden constructions have normally been installed to bear a maximum of two floors. This one has four floors who are supported by an impressive stacked structure of wooden beams. At soil level, 12 sandstones support the increasingly tapered construction. The bottom floor starts at 2,50 meters and the canopy at this level have a diameter of no less than 17 meters. Together with leaves and twigs, this covers a total canopy surface of 280 square meters. So when you sit on the square bench around the trunk you have the feeling of being under a huge umbrella. The subsequent supported floors have a mutual distance of 1,75 meters, but as the diameter of the layers decreases the mutual distance also varies. In total the tree is about 18 meters high, which is quite striking for a pleached tree.

In 2020 the tree turns 268 years old. Together with the townhall and the church, the tree is one of the main landmarks of the village. If anything is about to be celebrated, local people gather here. Therefore, the Stufenlinde has a strong connection and function within the local society. It is known that justice was also spoken under such trees. I could not find reliable information but if I may believe Wikipedia people danced and judged trials under this tree. The lower branches would have even been used to hang people. Fortunately, we have left behind such primitive habits. Nowadays we can only thank the people of Grettstadt for preserving such legacy, the pride of the village for multiple generations.

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