Trees of Latvia: The white willow of Jaunsloboda

Latvian Radio offers the latest installment in the "Greatest Trees of Latvia" series showcasing trees inside the country. This time we'll be visiting the white willow in Jaunsloboda in the Kaunata parish of Latgale.

The 100-year-old willow definitely looks like it, with its bark having formed "braids" due to ripe old age.

The tree, with a girth of 5.72m at breast height, is part of the Rāzna National Park, said park employee Regīna Indriķe.

"The white willow has beautiful, glossy leaves. It's often called the tree of Māra [a goddess of fertility in Latvian mythology]," she said.

"As calves come by the grace of Māra, and as Māra herself milks the cows and makes butter, she wiped her hands in the leaves of a willow. That's supposedly why the leaves are so slippery and glossy," said Indriķe.

Due to the structure of its bark, the willow could be home to several rare varieties of insects. 

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