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Tree and Plant Stories 1

The Little Pine Tree (Denmark)

Keywords: pine tree, branches, needles, adaptations

Summary: A little Pine Tree once wanted to be different. He wanted the other trees and animals to notice him. Once he saw a rich nobleman's coach roll by. The tree wished and wished for gold needles. Perhaps a fairy or magician heard the wish, because the next day, the pine had gold needles. But a peddler came by and took them to sell in town. Then the tree wished for glass needles, but these broke when the wind blew. Then the tree wished for maple leaves. But those leaves made the tree dry out. Finally the tree remembered how wonderful its ordinary needles had been and wished for those. Luckily it had one wish left and the next day it had regular pine tree needles.

"The Pine Tree," on page 3 in Rose Dobbs, One Upon a Time: Twenty Cheerful Tales to Read and Tell (New York: Random House, 1950). 117pp.

"The Tiny Pine Tree's Wish," on page 107 in Mildred L. Kerr, and Frances Ross, First Fairy Tales (San Francisco: Charles E. Merrill Books, 1946). 128 p.

Find another version in Kevin Strauss, Tales with Tails: storytelling the wonders of the natural world. (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2006). 230pp. $35.00pa. ISBN 1-59158-269-5pa.

 

Why Trees Are Evergreen (Denmark)

Keywords: birch tree, maple tree, oak tree, fir tree, spruce tree, pine tree, cedar tree, juniper tree

Summary: One winter, a Redwing bird hurt its wing and couldn't fly south. When the wing blew and the slow started to fall, the bird asked birch, maple and oak for help, but those trees wouldn't bother to help. But the evergreens offered assistance. When the South Wind returned, it cast a spell on the trees. Now the rude broadleaf trees loose their leaves every fall and the evergreens keep their needles, so they can keep helping other birds.

"The Trees' Perpetual Penance," on page 43 in Time-Life Books, ed., Magical Justice (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1986). Enchanted World Series. 143pp. ISBN 0-80945-269-3.

A similar story about evergreens receiving their year-round leaves for helping someone else (in this case baby Jesus) can be found in "The Trapper's Tale," on page 109 in Ruth Sawyer, This Way to Christmas (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1952). 165pp.

Find another version in Kevin Strauss, Tales with Tails: storytelling the wonders of the natural world. (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2006). 230pp. $35.00pa. ISBN 1-59158-269-5pa.

 

The Columbine Crown (adapted from Persia)

Keywords: lion, tiger, bear, leopard, wolf, hyena, king, columbine

Summary: Long ago, Lion, Tiger, Leopard, Bear, Hyena and Wolf were arguing about who should be "King of the Animals." Each had a claim. The animals, tired of the fighting, told the contestants that wise Owl would choose the king the next day. But that night, each contestant made himself a crown, so he would look like a king when the animals met the next day. When Lion, who thought he was the only one with such a clever idea, saw the other crowns, I turned furious. He knocked the crowns from the other animal's heads and chased them into the woods. When Owl arrived later, and saw Lion with his crown, she assumed that the animals had settled the argument and proclaimed Lion as king. Wherever an animal's crown fell, it turned into a crown-shaped columbine flower and Lion eats columbine to this day to give him strength.

Miller, Candace R., ed. Tales from the Plant Kingdom: Over 160 Legends and Pourquoi Stories (Lima, OH: Pourquoi Press, 1996).110pp. $20.00pa. E-mail: naturelegends@wcoil.com.

 

Mistletoe (Norway)

Keywords: mistletoe, Norse gods, Balder, Loki

Summary: Long ago the goddess Freya wanted to protect her son Balder, so she got most everything in the world to promise not to harm her son. It became a game among the Norse gods to throw things at Balder and see them drop at his feet. But Loki, the mischief maker looked for a chance to get back at bright Balder. He crafted a dart out of Mistletoe (a plant too small and harmless to be noticed). He got blink Hodur to throw the dart and it killed Balder. All the world grieved Balder's death. Mistletoe pledged that it would never harm anyone again. It shriveled up even smaller and grew high in the trees.

Cotterell, Arthur. Norse Mythology (London: Lorenz Books, 2000). 96pp. ISBN 1-85967-998-6.

Miller, Candace R., ed. Tales from the Plant Kingdom: Over 160 Legends and Pourquoi Stories (Lima, OH: Pourquoi Press, 1996).110pp. $20.00pa. E-mail: naturelegends@wcoil.com.

 

Alice Algae and Freddie Fungus (United States)

Keywords: adaptation, symbiosis, algae, fungus

Summary: Long ago there was a fungus named Freddy. Now Freddy Fungus was very good at building houses, but he wasn't a very good cook. Alice Algae was a good cook, but not so good at building. Freddy Fungus blew right over there and people say that Freddy Fungus and Alice Algae took a lichen (liking) to each other. They decided to get married. And from then on, Freddy Fungus would make a house and Alice Algae would make food and they could live wherever they wanted, as long as there was sunlight. That's why to this day, when we see a lichen plant, we tell the symbiotic story of a fungus and an alga that fell in love. Keep that in mind the next time you see lichen on a rock.

I first heard this story working at a nature center in Minnesota. It is a well-known piece of environmental education folklore.

Find another version in Kevin Strauss, Tales with Tails: storytelling the wonders of the natural world. (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2006). 230pp. $35.00pa. ISBN 1-59158-269-5pa.

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(c) 2006 Tales with Tails Storytelling Programs

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