Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015...10:22 am

Capsula Mundi: Which trees are best for your egg-shaped burial pods?

Recently people have been telling TheGardenLady of a new and exciting burial concept. Two Italian designers want to  make cemeteries more eco-friendly by replacing headstones with trees. They call their concept “Capsula Mundi,” and it aims to replace coffins with egg-shaped burial pods.  On top of the pods they will plant a tree so that instead of a field of gravestones, there will be a lovely forest. This is still in the concept stage.

TheGardenLady finds this concept interesting but wants to find out which trees would be chosen to be planted. After all, trees like humans have a life span. All trees live a finite number of years. Some trees only live about 50 years.  For example, if you want a flowering tree it might not live very long. One of the longest lived flowering trees is a magnolia grandiflora that has lived only about 120 years, Of course for it to live this long it has to be planted in the proper location. (see here)

Then there is the problem of insects or diseases on some trees. Some are more vulnerable than others to these problems. I wouldn’t want a tree that I knew might get sick and die. For example, ash trees are beautiful and can live a long time if healthy. North American Green/Red Ash can live for 300+ years and White Ash 600+ years. Black Ash & Blue Ash are shorter lived types with 100-150 year possible lifespans. But there is the Emerald Ash Borer that has been decimating ash trees in the US- killing them with no known preventative. I would not want the ash tree to be used on my pod.

Then there are some trees that can live thousands of years. Of course, the trees have to be grown in an ideal location for it to be really long lived, so the company has to do their homework to be sure that the pod and the tree are planted properly.

Here is a list of some really long lived trees.

  • Bristlecone Pine Pinus longaeva
  • Alerce Fitzroya cupressoides
  • Giant Sequoia Sequoia sempervirens
  • Huon-pine Lagarostrobos franklinii
  • Rocky Mountains Bristlecone Pine Pinus aristata
  • European Yew Taxus baccata
  • Western Redcedar Thuja plicata.
  • Sri Maha Bodhi Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa)

TheGardenLady of course, has chosen the trees she would like on her pod, if she were to have such a burial. These trees would be trees that live a very long time, can grow in many locations and have few insect or disease problems. These are also gorgeous huge trees.

TheGardenLady would either want  a Gingko biloba tree – either a female tree (one that has fruit) or a fruitless male tree.  These are not the longest lived tree – about 2500 years – but they are magnificent trees.

Or I would want a dawn redwood- Metasequoia glyptostroboides – a tree that once blanketed North America  35 million years ago.

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