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  • Writer's pictureYaman

Old Istanbul Trees

If I ask which are the Old Istanbul Trees of Burgaz island, most of us think of the historical plane tree, which is determined to be about 600 years old, next to the bakery in Çınarlık Street. It is obvious that our famous plane tree is old, but the trees shown as number 101 in the map of Volkan Yalazay's masterpiece Eski İstanbullu Ağaçlar (Old Istanbul Trees) book, which I used as a source while preparing this article, are different from this. I kept the surprise at the end of the compilation.

Happy Forest Week and Arbor Day.

Map of Old Istanbul Monumental Trees, p.466

Plane Tree

Eski İstanbullu Ağaçlar, Volkan Yalazay Ankara, 2019

Let's start with plane tree.

Street names are now empty, randomly and quickly given, occasionally adding various flower or tree names to sweeten them a little. That is why today there are dozens of "plane" streets in Istanbul, the number of which is increasing day by day, but very few of them have been named after they have plane trees.

However, the old streets of Istanbul are different. The name of the street is surely the most beautiful expression, the essence of that street. If there is the word "plane tree" in one of these streets, there is indeed a plane tree that gives shade and greenery to that street, or he lived there in his time. Some of the streets of Istanbul that were once beneficial, Kuruçınar Street in Sulukule and Çınarlık Street in Burgaz island still stand with their plane trees that have been named after them. An example from Burgaz island is Kesik Çınar Sokağı for those whose Çınarlı name remains only a signboard at the beginning of the street.


It is the famous tree of the Greek island, which we call Chios Island (Khinos), which is named after this type of gumwood. Except for the Islands, it has not been found in any maquis area in Istanbul. Istanbul islands are places where all three pistacia species (P. atlanica, P. terebinthus, P. lentiscus) live. You can see an elderly group of Atlas, which can become huge trees in Istanbul due to their structures, on the part of Burgaz island Cami Street facing the sea.

Gumwood (Pistacia lentiscus), leaves and flowers, Burgaz island p.295

Red Pine

Ephesus traveler-scholar-writer Artemidoros, who lived in the 100th century BC, calls the Istanbul islands 'Pitiuso' (island with pine trees) in his notes. Istanbul islands are almost a hometown of red pine. The old Istanbul trees marked as 101 number on the map are red pines on the plain at the top of Burgaz island. It is nice for the people of Istanbul, who came to the islands after a one-hour journey on the ferry, to find themselves in the Aegean or the Mediterranean while visiting old trees.

A cluster of red pine survived the 2003 fire at the top of Burgaz, a young population grows around them, 2008 p.395

The fire that broke out in Burgaz island on October 6, 2003 destroyed most of the living cover. Hundreds of other species were planted on this stony, rocky island, where redwoods and maquis bushes could survive and hold on with a grain of water. Later, pine saplings were placed between them, but instead of red pine, pistachio pine. Other conifers such as cypress and cedar were also planted. (Note: Red pine seeds, which is called a stubborn goat, are resistant to fire and their germination percentage is also very high after the fire.)

Fortunately, the flat area at the top of Burgaz island survived this fire. Ten or so old red pine with diameters ranging from 70 to 80 cm and tens of younger ones are partly shadows on this plain.

Red pines (Pinus brutia) on the plain at the top of Burgaz island, 2008 p.394

I would be glad if those who know the pine, which is named "Koca Çam Mevkii" (Big Pine Area), get in touch. Thanks to Architect Mehmet Berksan (@mehmetbrksn) who pointed out the existence of this masterpiece to me. You can order the book only from the @kirsalcevre website:

Source: Eski İstanbullu Ağaçlar, Volkan Yazalay, Kırsal Çevre ve Ormancılık Sorunları Araştırma Derneği (Rural Environment and Forestry Problems Research Association) Ankara, 2019 (@kirsalcevre)

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