An oak planted by a king
A beautiful, protected oak tree gives its name to a city park called Kuninkaantammenpuisto, literally “King’s Oak Park”. According to legend, the tree was personally planted by King Gustav III of Sweden in the late 1700s. We don’t know why exactly he planted the tree there, but it is certainly beautiful. The king’s oak has witnessed a lot over the centuries, and still it stands proudly along this ancient route.
Where? Kuninkaantammenpuisto, near the Pitkäkoski rapids along the Vantaanjoki river
Prettiest pear tree in Finland
On the grounds of Herttoniemi Manor you will find what is perhaps the prettiest pear tree in Finland. The gardens were once filled with berry bushes and fruit trees, but only the one pear trees remains. Planted in the 1800s, this old tree has reached impressive proportions. It has a circumference of 277 centimetres and a height of over 15 metres, so the uppermost pears are not the easiest to pick! The tree’s dimensions would be even greater if it had not lost one of its three main branches over the years.
Where? Herttoniemi Manor, in the park to the southeast of the main building
Sacrificial pine in Laajasalo
Behind the shopping centre in Laajasalo you will find a lone tree in the middle of a small square, seemingly lost among the concrete elements. The tree has been there for a lot longer than the shops, however, and it’s certainly no ordinary pine. According to local lore, it was once the “spirit tree” of a house that once stood there. Spirit trees were never cut down but protected, and sacrifices were made to ensure that they thrived. The sacrificial rituals varied from place to place and tree to tree. Unfortunately, local lore does not reveal the details for this tree. Perhaps gifts were left between the gaps in its bark, or maybe at the base of the tree by its roots?
Where? Laajasalo shopping centre, behind K-market
Eira’s sea buckthorn
The sea buckthorn is usually a shrub that produces berries that are packed with vitamins. The sea buckthorn down by the shore in Eira is quite exceptional, as it grows like a tree and is truly a giant of its kind. Whereas normal sea buckthorns grow to a height of maybe two metres, the one in Eira has reached a height of seven metres and has a circumference of over a metre around the trunk. Originally it grew vertically, but over the years it has succumbed to age and now extends almost horizontally toward the sea.
Where? Eira, Merisatama shoreline, opposite the island of Sirpalesaari
Tallest pine in Helsinki
Laajasalo is home to some of the most impressive trees in Helsinki, including what is probably the tallest pine tree. This fine example can be found along the road that leads to the Vartiosaari pier among a clump of spruces that you might not expect to find in a city forest. In 2003 it had a circumference of 365 centimetres and a height of 28 metres.
Where? Laajasalo, beside Reposalmentie and by the beach, right before the Vartiosaari pier
Giant snake branch spruce in Pohjois-Haaga
This peculiar species of spruce has long, curved branches that hang down like snakes. What makes the example in Pohjois-Haaga even more exceptional is its size: whereas the snake branch spruce usually reaches a height of 15 metres at the most, this one is over 25 metres tall. Unfortunately, its location does not do it justice. To see snake branch spruces at their most beautiful, visit the Meilahti Arboretum, which has two stands of impressive snake branch spruces.
Where? Pohjois-Haaga, in the park to the southeast of Näyttelijäntie and Kaupintie, as well as Meilahti Arboretum
Thickest tree in Helsinki
The old oak tree at Tali Manor had a circumference of 440 centimetres back in 1957; by 2013 this had grown to an impressive 616 centimetres. This makes it the thickest single-trunk tree in Helsinki. Reaching a height of 22 metres, it is no wonder that oaks were traditionally thought to be the tree of the Thunder God in Scandinavia. The most bizarre oak in Helsinki can be found in Kaisaniemi Park growing through the middle of the restaurant, but this example is small compared to the one in Tali. The thickest of all trees in Helsinki is a multi-trunk black alder in the Tuurholma park, which has a circumference of 703 centimetres.
Where? Tali Manor, behind the golf course’s club house
Sources: Kristin Lauharo, Green Hearts website, City of Helsinki, “Metsämiesten Säätiö” Foundation