Weird Lisbon: Strange Trees Growing in the City

There are close to a million trees in Lisbon, and around 65 of them have been classified and protected. Many of those are naturaly in the city’s parks and gardens, others are isolated on the streets. Here are the ones that most catch the eye of the tourist:

Largo do Limoeiro

Close to the Santa Luzia viewpoint, up the hill from the cathedral, is this strange tree which probably came from Brazil. It was placed here just over a century ago, substituting a lemon tree that grew on the site. Its roots, branches and trunks are growing wildly in every direction on the sidewalk, causing many to stop and take a look. Children sit and hide inside it while parents take photos. Many give their own interpretation of what each shape looks like, with some more perverse minds seeing phallic symbols.

Principe Real garden

This 130-year-old tree with a 23-meter (75 feet) diameter is a gigantic umbrella in the garden of Principe Real. The official scientific name is Cupressus lusitanica, and while “lusitanica” recalls the name of Portugal during Roman times, this tree does not have origins in Portugal or even in the Iberian Peninsula. It’s from Mexico and probably ended up in Portugal in the early 1600s when it was planted in the Buçaco forest. Sadly, the iconic tree in Lisbon is slowly dying and probably won’t last for many more decades.

Botanical Garden, Lisbon

The strangest trees in the city are found in the enchanted forest that is the botanical garden. Among the countless species from all over the world is this strange subtropical dragon tree. It’s native to the Canary Islands, although it’s also found in Portugal’s Azores, the probable origin of this one growing here for decades. And we do mean grow, as it’s rapidly expanding more to the sides than up.

Botanical Garden, Lisbon

This majestic tree welcomes you to the botanical garden and has strangely developed several trunks over the years. It’s originally from Australia and it’s been here for over a century. It’s usually planted to provide shade, as it can grow up to 60 meters (around 200 feet) tall.