Trees are older than humans by billions of years. Not surprising, trees have been woven into the mythology, spirit, and culture of people throughout the world. Trees are symbols. Trees are hope. Trees are life. 

The Arbola Foundation honors every culture where people recognize the importance of trees to the environment, to their lives, and to our collective future. 

Below are but a few.  If your heritage, culture, religion, or nation includes a special tree, please let us know about it and we may include it in future updates. Please send an email via the Contact Us menu selection. 

The Basque

The Basque honor the tree of Guernica (Gernikako Arbola), a lovely oak that’s only a few years old. It was planted as a sapling which had been grown from a sprout of the first oak of the Basque  That first oak dated back to Isabelle and Ferdinand who lay their hand on the bark and promised to protect Basque liberty in return for allegiance to the crown. This deal between liberty and loyalty became a tradition thereafter. The Arbola Foundation, whose benefactor is Basque, draws its name from Gernikako Arbola. 


The Jewish celebrate Tu B’shvat each year to honor the birthday of all trees.  Judaism is replete with trees that are real, metaphorical, historical, cultural, even imaginary; indeed, there is a wonderful and beautiful forest of trees that sprouts throughout the Torah. 

The most important may be the Tree of Life, or Etz Chayim.  The Etz Chayim was planted in the middle of the Garden of Eden and became a key justification for expelling Adam and Eve from paradise:  “Now that man has become like one of us, knowing good and bad, what if he should stretch out his hand and also take from the tree of life and eat, and live forever!”

Buddhists and Hindus

For the 360 million Buddhists spread across India, China, Tibet, Burma, Thailand, Japan, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere, the most important tree is the pipal tree (Ficus religiosa). Under the pipal tree, the Buddha is said to have reached enlightenment, a rare state of awakening about life. The pipal tree is also sacred to the one billion Hindus worldwide who regard it as a place of dwelling for Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh.


For people in Southern Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa, the olive tree is a ubiquitous friend across the landscape.  It grows slowly, in rocky dry terrain, requiring years of patient labor before a harvest.  Once mature, it produces a fruit that yields olive oil, a highly valuable commodity that still today is considered good for health.

The olive tree and olive branch appear in Greek mythology and later in the Bible.  They symbolize a link to the land, to deep roots, and as so often is the case, to peace and reconciliation.  It was the dove, now a universal symbol of peace, that brought Noah “a plucked olive leaf in its beak,“ and from that, Noah knew of land nearby and a chance to start anew. 


Few natural resources compare to the breadth, beauty, and diversity of the Amazon rain forest. The people of Brazil chose the Ipé-amarelo (Tacoma chrysostricha) as their national symbol and pride.  Although it’s technically a flower, the name comes from the word used for the trees by the indigenous peoples of Brazil.  The Ipé-amarelo belongs to the tropical family of bignonias, which includes almost four hundred Brazilian species. The genus Tecoma contains many species, well known and easily distinguishable by the Brazilian people.