Too Much Attention for the Beloved Broccoli Tree?

20 January 2019 | By Marlene Stjernholm
Photo by: Patrik Svedberg

You can’t un-saw a tree. And you can’t un-see one either. Though the beloved Broccoli Tree was destroyed by vandals, its memory lives on.

To share something is to risk losing it. 

That was the fate of Sweden’s popular Broccoli Tree. 

The story started innocently enough when Patrik Svedberg, a photographer, born and based in Sweden, biked past an unusual tree on the shore of the second largest lake in Sweden on his way to work.  Attracted to tree’s unusual shape resembling stalks of broccoli, he snapped a quick picture with his phone, posted it on Instagram and immediately got 43 ‘likes’  

Photo by: Patrik Svedberg

Intrigued with the response, Patrik continued to post other images of the tree over many months.  Through all four seasons, Patrik’s captured stunning images of the Broccoli Tree standing distinctively in the otherwise void landscape, framed by the lake in the background, and an ever-changing sky above. But the photos weren’t only of the tree. They included the people who were near the tree at the time—everyday citizens under its branches celebrating life’s ordinary or special moments, or those who just happened to be passing by. 

Soon the Broccoli Tree gained international attention. It even became a tourist attraction. People both near and far also followed postings of the Broccoli Tree online, with the tree eventually becoming the most photographed tree on the internet. You could even buy prints of the Broccoli Tree or a Broccoli Tree calendar. 

But then, one the fateful day, someone cut almost entirely through one of the tree’s main limbs. The next day, more deep cuts appeared, compromising the integrity of the tree and prompting local authorities to cut back the tree entirely.  

Take a minute to watch a short video with the full story here

Photo by: Patrik Svedberg

As Patrik would tell you, ‘You can’t un-saw a tree.  But you can’t un-see it either.’ Thanks to Patrik’s artistic contributions in chronicling the Broccoli Tree and the community that gathered nearby or under its branches, though the tree no longer stands its image is etched in the minds of many who gazed at the remarkable tree or Patrik’s photos of it. 

Maybe there was a greater purpose behind The Broccoli Tree. Perhaps the notoriety of this well-loved yet ill-fated tree will help ensure other trees across the globe are respected—and that our natural heritage and the beauty of our landscape is also protected and treasured. 

There is a hopeful ending to the story. The Broccoli Tree was cut down in a fashion that encourages new growth to form. So, even though the original tree no longer stands, there is a promise that new branches will emerge, signaling a rebirth for a much-loved tree. 

The Tree of the Year contest exists to unite tree-lovers in celebrating trees as part of our natural heritage. But it also seeks to inspire communities to protect their beloved trees, promote advocacy and environmental justice for threatened trees. Like the Broccoli Tree, trees that are nominated for the Tree of the Year contest are precious natural landmarks that are part of people’s lives. They mean a great deal to so many. 

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