The linden trees in Iasi have long been a landmark of the city. In Copou Park, perched on the Copou Hill, the oldest and largest urban park in Iasi, next to the Lions Obelisk, which is the oldest-standing historical monument in Romania, we find a tree that has been declared a natural monument. Dubbed “Eminescu’s linden tree,” it is about 540 years old, and it has become an emblem of the city. In addition to the major treatments it has benefitted from over the years, the tree mostly owes its survival to an unusual biological phenomenon, which has enabled it to grow additional roots within the decayed trunk, into the ground. These are called adventitious roots because they develop in unusual locations.
With hundreds of linden trees growing in Copou Park and alongside the main boulevard in the city, and thus becoming a symbol of Iasi ever since the second half of the 19th Century, it comes as no surprise that several civic initiatives have emerged, in an effort to preserve the uniqueness of the city. Such an initiative belongs to the Iasi Athenaeum, which jointly with the Vienna-based Mihai Eminescu Association launched a campaign called “Adopt a linden tree!” Andrei Apreotesei, manager of the National Athenaeum in Iasi, told us more about this campaign:
Andrei Apreotesei: “In a developing city, pollution is bound to exist, so it was only natural for us to think about ways to fight it. And one of the ways to do so is this project in which the Athenaeum plans to plant 100 linden trees. Why linden trees? Because when you say Iasi, linden trees are one of the first things you think about, they are one of the landmarks of the city. Why 100? Because this year, the Iasi Athenaeum celebrates 100 years since its establishment, so this is somehow a birthday present for us. After a national tour entitled “Unity through Culture”, where we performed in more than 100 towns across the country this year, we are now implementing this wonderful project, together with the Mihai Eminescu Association in Vienna.”
Laura Hant, the president of the Mihai Eminescu Association in Vienna, added:
Laura Hant: “We set out to help the city of Iasi, and we started from the idea of planting 100 linden trees. We chose this because Iasi is the city of linden trees and because this year is the 100th anniversary of the Iasi Athenaeum. And then we thought about getting the local community involved as well, so the next step was for our Association to launch and manage a fundraiser. We were delighted to see the extent to which the community got involved, we raised a nice amount to buy some of the linden trees that will be planted, and the rest of them will be purchased by the Iasi City Hall.”
Iasi is, indeed, one of the most polluted cities in Romania. The centre of the city is affected by heavy traffic, and the concentration of dust and pollutants in the air is rather high. On the other hand, an adult linden tree is able to absorb between 28 and 67 kilos of carbon dioxide a year, and to produce 20 to 50 kilos of oxygen. In addition, trees retain substantial amounts of dust, which are subsequently washed away by rain and reach the soil. We should also mention the phytoncides, antimicrobial compounds emitted by linden trees, which help prevent and cure TB, dysentery and several lung diseases. Andrei Apreotesei, manager of the Iasi Athenaeum, gave us more details about the project:
Andrei Apreotesei: “Adopt a linden tree!’ is not only about planting a tree, but also about taking care of these wonderful trees until they are old enough to take care of us. This is why we invited the people, the local community, to come up with ideas regarding places in the city where these trees should be planted. Then we went to the City Hall and obtained all the required permits, so now we are going to plant these trees along the Tatarasi cultural route, which connects the Tatarasi neighbourhood, where the Athenaeum is located, to Copou Park.”
In turn, the president of the Mihai Eminescu Association in Vienna, Laura Hant, urges all Romanians:
Laura Hant: “We should all love Romania wherever we are, in the country and abroad, and we should be active and involved citizens, because change starts with us!”
The linden trees that will be planted as part of the project will increase the value of the historical buildings in the area, and the project as a whole will be an example of best practice, to be followed across the country.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)