It’s another entrance into the Old Forest, or “Ranti Forest!”
The first part of the trail follows the plateau along the top of the Atheras ridge.
Decaying olive pits look almost exactly like goat dung. Apparently these beetles are sometimes duped too, because we noticed one rolling an olive pit up a slope for a few seconds before realizing its mistake.
Holm Oak is also known as ‘Holly Oak’ (Holm is an ancient word for ‘holly’). Indeed, younger leaves or leaves on younger oak trees have holly-like leaves, with spines around the edge.
If you look closely, you can see the whitish down that coats the surfaces of the young leaves. As the leaves age, they will acquire a glossier texture, visible below.
Older leaves or leaves on an older tree are smoother without toothed edges.
In ancient Greece, acorns were a fertility symbol, and the acorn motif was popular on jewelry and other adornments.
Acorns from Holm Oak are sweeter than the acorns from most other species, and, once leached of their tannins, can be toasted or used as flour. In fact, many older generations of Ikarians remember their parents making acorn flour during the scarce times after the war.
Holm Oaks, native to the Mediterranean, are one of the most popular trees chosen for the cultivation of truffle orchards, due to the fact that their roots develop a symbiotic relationship with the fungus, attracting them to the bases of trees.
The oldest Holm Oaks in Europe are between 500 and 1000 years old.
Holm Oaks are slow growers, but can eventually reach an average height of 82 feet, with a spread of 68 feet.
Oaks were held in high regard in ancient Greece. It is believed that the Holm Oak was the oak species that was used early on in the oracle at Dodona, where Zeus foretold the future by speaking through the rustling leaves.
The shrine at Dodona is the oldest Greek oracle, dating back to the second millenium B.C.
After Dodona stopped functioning as a pagan site, the sacred oak at Dodona was eventually cut down. Following the invasion by the Slavs in the 6th century, the site was completely abandoned, and later replaced by the famous oracle at Delphi.
– In honor of old trees everywhere –