Ethnobotany and/or associated history:
We will arrive to the Sports centre car park, having taken the Old Path from Gandia (former cart driver path, of medieval origin which crossed all the municipal area across the village centre from north to south). There we can find the public swimming-pool, the tennis courts, the 5 aside football and basketball fields; and next to these, we will find the Sports Park and finally the 15 hackberry trees.
The hackberry is considered to be the “hayforks tree”, and in the old times it was a very precious tree, because people could:
1.- Make tools used in different agricultural seasons and cycles. Its flexible wood used since Neolithic times has been used to make the hoes, sickles, picks and mallets…
2.- Use it as a means to avoid EROSION. The water irrigation systems (or canals) were made with stones and earth, and the hackberry roots in them avoided erosion.
3.- Keep the fire going in the sugar cane mills thanks to the hackberry wood, so useful to make COAL.
4.- Used its leaves as FORAGE for cattle, particularly for the flock of sheep and goats.
5.- Eat its fruit, the hackberry, a drupe slightly bigger than a pea, that ripens throughout summertime; in autumn it acquires a blackish colour; the pulp has a sweet and floury taste, and it is rich in VITAMIN C, iron and potassium. Oil could also be extracted from the fruit, and people could also make healing and alcoholic drinks. Moreover, the fruit is considered to be a good antidote against diarrhoea.
6.- When agriculture first appeared, the hackberry was in charge of protecting the strategic sites and the places of worship. Hence, it is also called a sanctuary tree; the moors used to walk to these sites to ask for a bodily favor following the ritual of getting wet with the water that sprung form certain corners; therefore, as a witness of these favours asked, people left their capes hanging on these trees. As you can see from this, all from the hackberry tree was widely used, even for spiritual purposes, by the people of those times.
An extra itinerary to this route is suggested if you’d like to visit the hackberry tree located at the Merlich area. Its total height is 23,50 metres, with a trunk perimetre of 5,77 m., and with a cup diametre of 24,30 m and a perpendicular diametre of 19,40 m. These impressive measurements mean that it is one of the biggest in its kind in Europe; (we have another reference of a hackberry tree in Treviso with similar measurements, precisely 5,72 m trunk perimetre and aged 157 ± 20 years).
Nowadays this hackberry tree from the Merlich area is protected as a special specimen by the Town Hall of Ador, thanks to the initiative suggested by the Col.leciu Nostra Terra (from Potries).