HANNOVER, GERMANY -- The Tree of the Year is a popular photo object at the biennial LIGNA HANNOVER exhibition (30 May to 3 June). This year professional and hobby photographers can zoom in on the deciduous Wild Service Tree (botanic name: Sorbus torminalis), which grows to a height of between 15 and 30 meters.

The tree planting ceremony at LIGNA HANNOVER is a time-honored tradition going back to 1977. Since then, the "Tree of the Year" has been planted every Ascension Day at the biennial LIGNA event at the Hannover Exhibition Center. This tradition will be upheld again this year: At 12 noon on Thursday, 2 June, representatives of the LIGNA Exhibitors' Advisory Committee of LIGNA will be joined by the event organizers, VDMA Holzbearbeitungsmaschinen (Frankfurt am Main) and Deutsche Messe, in a tree-planting ceremony to honor the 2011 Tree of the Year - the Wild Service Tree.

Beginning at 11:30 a.m., the traditional ceremony kicks off this year with typical rustic charm: A horse-drawn coach will transport the "tree-planting retinue", departing from the north end of Hall 18 (Nordplatz) to musical accompaniment. Following a tour across the entire LIGNA exhibition site, the Wild Service Tree will be planted in teamwork near the grassy hill opposite the new LIGNA press center, in the garden next to Pavilion 36, then "watered" with a mug of freshly tapped Pilsner beer.

Since 1989 the Berlin-based Board of Trustees "Tree of the Year" has brought together more than 20 different nature organizations and environmental groups to highlight the fate of threatened tree species as well as to raise awareness about indigenous trees.

About the Wild Service Tree
The Board of Trustees picked a "relative unknown" this year. As a deciduous tree of the Sorbus species, the Wild Service Tree belongs to the rose (rosaceae) family. Known earlier as the "checker tree", its fruit was considered a suitable remedy for colic. Older Wild Service Trees are often ash-colored with shallowly fissured, scaly bark, which is easily confused with the bark of an oak tree. The Wild Service Tree lives up to 100 years, and in rare cases, even longer.

Being selected as "Tree of the Year" contributes greatly to a tree's popularity. Although it could grow almost anywhere in Germany, the Wild Service Tree is found primarily in Central and Southern Europe. Wild Service Trees are present in virtually every German state, with the exception of Brandenburg, Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein. The largest known Wild Service Trees are 35 meters in height and are located near the town of Gross Lengden in the southern part of Lower Saxony. The tree possesses a fine, hard timber. It is a relative "late bloomer" in spring and turns a lovely bright red-orange in autumn. Its berries are prized by connoisseurs, serving as a delicious ingredient for all sorts of culinary creations.

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