O Avó - Atlas Obscura

O Avó

Toxeiras, Spain

This "grandfather" eucalyptus is one of the tallest trees in Europe. 


In the Souto da Retorta, also known as the Chavín Eucalyptus Forest, near the town of Viveiro in Galicia, there are some of the tallest eucalyptus trees on the continent. The largest and most outstanding among them is O Avó (“grandfather” in Galician). A tree of the species Eucalyptus globulus was planted here in 1880 in order to drain the lowlands flooded by the streams of the river Landro.

The eucalyptus arrived in Europe in the 19th century, specifically in northwestern Spain, when a Galician priest brought its seeds from the distant Australian lands where he had been a missionary.  Optimally adapted to the conditions of the humid oceanic climate and spread massively throughout northern Spain where, due to its rapid growth, it has been cultivated to obtain wood and paper.

These eucalyptus plants were the first planted here, and O Avó is the oldest of them, being the biggest tree in Spain, standing more than 67 meters (220 feet) tall.  (There is controversy due to the height of one of the eucalyptus trees that surround it with which it has a close height of a few feet difference) Furthermore it would be the tallest eucalyptus in Europe. 

A perimeter fence has been installed to protect O Avó, since due to its age, it is affected by various diseases and also to avoid compaction of the ground in its surroundings that could affect its growth.

In 2010, O Avó was elected Tree of the Year by Bosques sin Fronteras (Forests Without Borders).

Know Before You Go

7.3 km (4.5 miles) from Viveiro by road LU-161, there is a parking where you will find the beginning of the path. Also there is a bus stop there (Calvoso) of three lines coming from Viveiro. There's a short distance walking (2km- 1.2 miles) and it is a flat trail.

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