Myths and folklore remain alive in the community of Moriah in Tobago, where the last of the famed large silk cotton trees on the island stands.
During a visit to the area, the giant structure stood tall overlooking the community, with legendary stories about it still blooming.
There has been folklore passed on for generations about spiritual occurrences involving the tree.
For example, there is one story about a man who was reportedly performing a spiritual ritual and who ended up walking up the tree backwards. Legend has it he had to call village elders to help him down.
Resident Iroy Des Vignes has heard it all, having spent his 32 years living in the village.
Up to this day, he said, “People would come and put fruits by the tree, they said don’t interfere with the tree, like trying to cut it down or anything. Sometimes bad things happen to you, stuff like that.”
Des Vignes said despite the fear factor, he grew up playing in the tree. However, nobody knows how old it is.
Even his 91-year-old great aunt met the tree there.
“To know the actual age of the tree, we don’t really know,” he said.
“A certain time of the year it does have cotton, a kinda silky brownish cotton that it will release and at a certain time of the year it does be dry, dry like it is going to die and then it does flourish again with green leaves and stuff,” he added.
Over the years, the tree has continued to be a significant tourist attraction.
“In terms of the size and the magnitude of this tree, it don’t have any other like this. This tree is known all over, tourists come to see this tree and stuff like that,” Des Vignes said.
He added that a few years ago, some tourists even tried to climb it but abandoned the mission as they were unable to reach the middle.
“They say they will have to come back some time but they never came back after that because it was a difficult challenge for them,” he explained.
There have been murmurs on the island that the silk cotton tree has somehow played a role in the political fortunes and misfortunes of parties. However, Des Vignes said he has no such information.
What he does know, though, is that if the ageing tree decides to fall, then that will spell serious problems for villages or anyone heading to the Northern side of the island to places like Castara and Parlatuvier.
“It has no alternative route so is just one road in and out. So, if something is supposed to happen to that tree, well I don’t know what is the next route they will take,” he said.
He explained that some time ago, there was a plan to cut down the tree but that was not followed through due to the fact that the tree’s roots are holding up a major part of the roadway.
Guardian Media reached out to the THA Secretary for the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development Trevor James to find out if there is a plan in the event the tree falls, but a response is yet to be received.
In December 2020, the other famous silk cotton tree in Culloden was uprooted and fell. For decades, folklore had said the Culloden tree was the one which an African witch called Gang Gang Sarah attempted to take flight to return to Africa.