Largest and probably oldest black poplar recorded in the vinodol region

Prospekt News


As part of its project to record the natural values within
the Primorsko-Goranska County, the Public Institution Priroda intends
to make an inventory of valuable specimens of old trees, such as the thousand-year-old
yew tree at Mrkopalj, the old yew tree in Mogušari, the beech tree – the
Forest Queen – in Dletvo near Klana, six old oak trees near the chapel
of St. Mikula (Nicholas) in Studena, the ancient oak tree at Šotovento
on Krk Island, the old true service tree at the foot of Grižane, the old
lime tree near the hamlet of Rogi, and many other old trees.

In 2008, Mrs. Anica Tomašević from Karlići in the Vinodol
Valley informed us that a huge black poplar tree (Populus nigra) – probably
the oldest black poplar in this region – is growing next to the Židovalj
spring. The name for this type of tree in the local Chakavian dialect
is jeršen. Only in early 2009 did the employees of the Public Institution
Priroda manage to visit the site, photograph the jeršen and, together
with Mrs. Tomašević, take its measurements. At that time, Mrs. Tomašević
– the greatest connoisseur of the traditions, history and events in her
homeland – recounted many interesting details not only about the Židovalj
spring and the old jeršen, but also about other natural phenomena, all
of which would be worth documenting.

The Židovalj spring was known for the washbasin that
was built on it and which bears the chiselled inscription of the year
1832. While measuring the old tree’s circumference at chest height, we
took the opportunity to learn more from Mrs. Tomašević about the spring,
the way clothes were washed at the washbasin in old times, and many other,
almost forgotten, facts about nature in the Vinodol Valley. Mrs. Tomašević
pointed out to us the flat rock slabs alongside the Židovalj creek at
the place where it pours out from the spring. On these rock slabs, women
used to beat their washing with a club and then rinse it out, after the
washing had been leached the night, that is, soaked in alkaline water
obtained by rinsing wood ash. It is interesting to note that almost every
village in the Vinodol Valley had its own spring from which water would
be obtained and on which a washbasin was built.

Upon being measured, the jeršen finally had a tangible
cipher for its circumference – as much as 6 metres and 32 centimetres.
Not even three large men could encircle its trunk! In its lower part,
the trunk has a hollow into which a man could fit. Galleries created by
wood-eating insects are visible on the withered parts of the tree; some
of its branches have dried up, while others have broken off. Similar to
other old trees, the old jeršen is a true micro world and eco-system,
vital to the survival of numerous other organisms – from insects, fungi
and lichen, to birds that seek shelter in its crown. It is also a “self-service
diner” for insects and larvae. When visiting the tree, however, it
is necessary to beware of branches breaking off from the tree.

Mrs. Tomašević also told us that two other black poplars
– just as large and old – grew alongside the Židovalj spring some 50 years
ago, but were felled by storms. The remains of one of the stumps can still
be seen today. To evoke the atmosphere of yesteryears linked to the spring
and the old jeršen, we bring you one of the many poems Mrs. Tomašević
has written in the Chakavian dialect:

Momu studencu

Lipi moj Vinodolski kraju
Kadi Vinodolke pivaju
Lipi moji studenci va gaju
Na Židovlju se tičice čuju.

Tri ukrasi Židovalj krasili
Tri ukrasi tri stara jeršena
Tri ukrasi kao troje braće
Samo jedan ostal je
I zapamtil velike nedaće

Nas trojica opasat ga neće.

Hladon se je po vodu hodilo
Sako selo studenac imelo
Nevestica mlada rano se je stala
Jer je sinoć robu lušijala
Učile su majke nevestice
Da ne peru robu bez palice

Roba bela sad se zablistala
Nevesta ju je lipo perlinala
Na Židovlju našen
Dobro je isprala

Šumi stari jeršen prošlo vrime…

Sada studenac zaboravljen plače
Voda još glatki kamik preskače
Dok zaborav priziva zvuk palice,
Smih nevestice…

Ostruga je se prekrila
I prošlo vrime skrila.

Anica Tomašević