This Montezuma Cypress (taxodium mucronatum) tree grows in Chapultepec Park, Mexico City. What is now an urban park was once a summer residence for Aztec rulers. Water from its springs flowed down to temples in the capital. The park is home to a large number of cypress trees. They were the favorite of the Aztec Emperor Montezuma (Motecuhzoma). In Mexico City the trees are called “Ahuehuete” trees (meaning “old man of the water”), and this one may be old enough to have been planted by the Aztecs. About half the tree is scrubbed with graffiti and the other half has barely enough bark remaining to keep the tree alive. We don’t think it will live much longer. This up-close and personal “barked” record will keep its memory alive. Mexico City is one of the world’s most populated, environmentally challenged urban areas. The tree’s relative, “El Sargento,” thought to be more than 500 years old, died in 1969 and its forlorn, decaying trunk is a Chapultepec landmark. (Order a print)

Montezuma Cypress, Mexico City

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