Contige eucalyptus in the running for Tree of the Year 2023


For the first time since Portugal started voting in the Tree of the Year competition (2018), a eucalyptus is the front runner. The Contige eucalyptus, considered to be one of the largest trees in the country, was nominated by the Parish Council of Sátão, Viseu The voting, which has put forward the tree that will represent Portugal in the international Tree of the Year competition in 2023, will be open until 11.59pm on 5 January 2023, and there are lots of good reasons to vote for it.

There are plenty of reasons for the Contige Eucalyptus to be chosen as Portuguese Tree of the Year 2023. Among dozens of candidates, it reached the top 10 most iconic trees elected by the jury and is now up for public vote, which will only add to its rich century-old history.

In Portugal, there are hundreds of huge eucalyptus trees of various species. The Contige Eucalyptus is just one of these magnificent specimens. It was planted in 1878 and because of its size, diameter and height is officially considered the largest tree in the country. Satão Parish Council features it on its website as the biggest tree in Portugal, in that it is 43 metres in height, has an impressive canopy and boasts a perimeter at chest height of more than eleven metres; it requires eight people holding hands to fully encircle it.

The Contige Eucalyptus, which is of the Eucalyptus globulus species, has been classified as a Tree of Public Interest since 1964, by the Nature and Forest Conservation Institute (ICNF) – file no KNJ1/132. At the last measurement made by the ICNF in 2015, this remarkable tree was 46 metres high, had a crown 34 metres in diameter and the perimeter at the base of the trunk exceeded 13 metres. The tree also appears in the book Árvores monumentais de Portugal, by Ernesto Goes, a key work on specimens that are notable for their size, age, history or uniqueness.

Why vote for the Contige Eucalyptus?

Because at almost 150 years old, and with its immense trunk, voluminous crown and height equivalent to the Dom Luís I Bridge in Porto, this eucalyptus symbolises:

  • The connection between trees and the local community’s history and culture: anyone who sees the Contige Eucalyptus in its unique setting, at the side of the old EN 229 highway, at the junction of the main road that connects Viseu to the centre of the village of Contige, at kilometre 73, may not understand its value to the community in which it is located. For the municipality and its inhabitants, this is a living monument inextricably linked to the region’s culture and history—in fact, it was the imposing eucalyptus that led to the design of the road that skirts it.
  • The role that large old trees play in biodiversity and other ecological services: large old trees are at the source of a wide diversity of habitats and microhabitats, many of them a result of the damage and rejuvenation that have taken place over decades and centuries: intertwining branches and twigs, areas of wood at different stages of decomposition, as well as cracks and cavities in the trunks and surface roots that provide shelter for dozens of life forms from the ground up. In the case of the eucalyptus, which remains in flower when most trees have shed their leaves, it is also important to note its important contribution to another ecological service—pollination—as it flowers between autumn and spring (and sometimes even the beginning of summer).
  • The importance of this species of eucalyptus—the most common in Portugal—for socioeconomic development in Portugal: isolated in its grandeur, but the ultimate symbol of its species, the Contige Eucalyptus reminds us of the importance of the species and its contribution to around 100,000 jobs in Portugal dependent on forests, generating over 10 billion euros per year from forestry and forest-based industry, and 5.5 billion euros in exports of processed forestry products, underlining its role in stimulating the forest-based bio-economy in Portugal.
  • The enjoyment provided by this and other large trees: from the shade it provides for those who sit under it on hot summer days, to the fresh, minty perfume of its buds and leaves, from which the essential oil used in various applications for the respiratory system is extracted, or the beauty of its flowers that last throughout autumn and winter.

How do I vote?

You can vote on the website especially set up for the competition. To vote, choose two candidates—select the Contige Eucalyptus and a second tree candidate. Then enter your e-mail address, which you use to validate your vote (if you do not receive it in your inbox, check your spam folder).

The winning tree will be announced on 6 January 2023, one day after the public vote has closed.

See the magnificent Contige Eucalyptus at the following GPS coordinates:

Latitude – 40°44’11.97″N
Longitude – 7°45’8.20″W