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The Tree of Hippocrates is the plane tree (or platane, in Europe) under which, according to the legend, Hippocrates of Kosmarker (considered the father of medicine) taught his pupils the art of medicine. Paul of Tarsus purportedly taught here as well. The Platanus in Kos is an Oriental plane, with a crown diameter of about 12 meters, said to be the largest for a plane tree in Europe.

Hippocrates' tree resides on the Platía Platanou (or "Square of the Platane"), in front of the Castle of Knights and next to the Gazi Hassan Mosque (erected in 1776) in the center of Kos town. The current tree is only about 500 years old, but may possibly be a descendant of the original tree which allegedly stood there 2400 years ago, in Hippocrates' time. The tree has become hollowed out over the years, and some branches are supported by metal scaffolding. Next to the tree is a white tap with engravings in the Arabic language, also built by the Turkish Governor Gazi Hassan.


During summertime, cultural festivals are held in this location. On September 5, it is custom for housewives to take an old and a new wreath with leaves from the Hippocratic tree and other plants to the sea. The old one is cast into the sea, and the new one (symbolising the beginning of a new year) placed at the shore line so that it is lapped by forty waves. The women then return to Hippocrates' tree and clasp it for strength, weight and a long life. Meanwhile they hold pannikins with sea water and pebbles. Back at home, they hang the wreath on the iconostasis, and use the water to sprinkle their rainwater.

Derivatives of the original tree

Seeds or cuttings from the tree have been spread all over the world. A cutting of the tree was presented as a gift from the island Kos to the United States and the National Library of Medicine, and planted on December 14, 1961 on the grounds surrounding the library. Many medical colleges, libraries or institutions have, or claim to have, trees cut or seeded from the original tree in Kos. It is probably because of its connection to the history of medicine that some institutions planted a plane tree. Trees cut or seeded from the original tree can be found, among others:

Seedlings or saplings aren't the only derivatives from the tree awarded to medical organisations; the Medical Association of Cos presented a gavel made from wood of the plane tree to the President of the Canadian Medical Association in 1954.


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