The Broccoli Tree: A Parable

The Broccoli Tree: A Parable

Some thoughts on what can be lost, and what can’t be, when we share what we love.

This video was produced, edited, and inspired by Seth Radley. Thanks to Patrik Svedberg for photographing the Broccoli Tree and for the rights to use his beautiful images in this video.
Additional images by Elna Dahlstrand, Nina Mattsson, Mike Beauregard, and Shutterstock.

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75 Responses

  1. Helen Scott says:

    Well, I certainly didn’t expect to be crying about trees today.

  2. Olivia Tunge says:

    Thanks for the great stories, every time I watch this channel (or see crashcourse at school) or read one of your books, I’m glad I did. I really admire the way you use language.

  3. Lori Earl says:

    OMG, love this! Such a moving parable about live and loss, and the comfort of shared memories and experiences–community. <3

  4. Vezitos says:

    Come, my friends… the ents are going to war…

    • fossilfighters101 says:

      To Isengard we march.

    • CybershamanX says:

      With rock and stone… Hoom Toom Boom. It is likely enough that we are going to our doom… That thought has long been growing in our hearts; and that is why we are marching now. It was not a hasty resolve. Now at least the last march of the Ents may be worth a song. 🙁

    • CybershamanX says:

      BTW, I keep the LotR books near my bed and I read a little before falling asleep each night. I had _just_ finished that part a couple of nights ago. :/ The broccoli tree had a voice of its own. Through the people that loved it. They will sing of it for some time to come. 🙂

  5. Sadia Afrin says:

    Thanks for your stories. There’s always something exploring in your channel which is fantastic.

    But It makes me so sad. It reminds of something sharing something is
    like showing the world and putting it in danger. Your words are touching.

  6. Ellie Does Life says:

    here I am getting emotional about a tree I never even knew existed

  7. Cody'sLab says:

    You can un saw a tree if you are good at bark grafts. I saved an elm after it had been fully gurtled by a horse.

    • qwonatz says:

      cody is like a personified motivational quote.

      thanks for being you.

    • Z K says:

      Would organically shaped damage (what I assume a horse girdling a tree would look like) be easier to manage than a straight cut from a saw? I want to assume yes, but I also think amputated fleshy bits are easier attached with surgically straight cuts, so I don’t know.

      As well, you couldn’t undo the history of the damage to the tree, just rectify it, and in that regard, you cannot unsaw a tree.

    • The Cheaterman says:

      You’re kind of a pro at this though, and you can’t protect your tree from angry or jealous people forever if they’re determined to kill it :-s

    • Roddy says:

      Cody’sLab they should’ve brought you in to fix it

  8. Guardians Creed says:


  9. katheriner10 says:

    Does anyone know why they cut the whole tree down? Can’t you just remove the broken branch and leave it be?

    • katheriner10 says:

      There’s a vid here – doesn’t look like vandals. Where are all the nerdfighter tree experts to answer this pressing question? Your time has come!

    • katchoo100 says:

      I searched for “what happened to the broccoli tree” and found this that says after the vandalism, the local government decided the whole tree had to come down:

    • This world will never change says:

      katheriner10 the story of this tree made me cry and now the video made me cry even more! LOL your comment is hilarious by the way! LOL I was thinking the same exact thing that’s why I clicked on the reply section LOL

    • Fiercesoulking says:

      I don’t thing it was necessary they only cut in one branch ….. someone was over eagerly like my brother. Why someone cut into the tree in the first place I can only guess jealousy or some hate about something ‘perfect’ or pure or sometimes construction workers act like some idiots

    • TimeStrutter says:

      The local government realized the vandals had damaged the entire tree, and since it can get VERY windy around that part of Sweden they decided to cut everything down so as not to create any risks of falling branches. At Least where i’m from here in sweden this is common practise. I also believe that the tree being so famous may have influenced the choice as so many people gather around it due to its notoriety, and this would create an even bigger risk had the tree been left standing.

  10. Chris Curtain-Magee says:

    I do wonder what goes on in the heads of people who see something someone loves and wish to destroy it, just because someone loves it. They must be very sad, and lonely, and empty.

    • Theocles Saturn says:

      Chris Curtain-Magee
      Not actually. It is fun to destroy, like the euphoria of smashing a car with a sledge hammer or snapping a twig. And to know that you have destroyed with no consequences is even better

  11. Holobrine says:

    To anyone who destroys just for attention…just notice that the guy who destroyed this tree got no attention. No one knows who that person is.

  12. Science with Katie says:

    This hurt my heart.

  13. Andy Hartley says:

    I think this story shows both the best and worst in humanity and is a proxy for many other situatuions, both on the web and irl. I didn’t even know about this tree 4 minutes ago, but it felt like a part of my life until it was ripped away from me by those people who would saw it down. Thank you for this beautiful but tragic story, John. It really made me think.

    • llgla says:

      If you like this type of story, google the lone phone booth in Mojave desert. Sometimes people just can’t leave beautiful things alone.

    • Shannon Ottarson says:

      I had a “broccoli tree” of my own, she was beautiful and strong and scarred old, over 200 years. Her name was The Grandmother Tree, she didn’t have an Instagram page or thousands of followers, but she was love in our city. Then she got sick and had to he chopped down. The spot where she once stood has been turned into a meditation garden. I miss her.

    • Kitty Cat says:

      Sebastian Elytron I think the worst in humanity has something to do with loving to hurt people, and choosing violence, and that’s in the story

    • From Scratch Aunty Bindy says:


    • Shaun O'Brien says:


  14. John Smith says:

    It’s not often you hear a story told in the second person, I like it 🙂 Also, while it’s true that you can’t un-saw a tree, you can’t un-see it either, there still remains the fact that there are people out there that seem determined to ruin everyone’s fun. And while they may say _it’s just a tree._ That kind of statement works against them too, because they cared so much about it to remove it from everyone else.

    • llgla says:

      I enjoy this story. I only know of the tree through this video yet something in me went with it when I found out that it’s gone. It’s similar to a lone phone booth story I heard from 99pi.

    • onceuponascream says:

      ugh that last sentence of your comment is just…right in the feels. ” they cared so much about it to remove it from everyone else” gonna have to remember that idea. It’s just like how at a certian point people being mean, hateful, rude, whatever is past the point of just not liking someone/something, you’ve gotta care or want to cause a reaction and be noticed to hate something that much. You have to feel some type of way about it not just indifferent to a tree exisiting that sometimes people take pictures of.

    • ReadEverything says:

      You’re right, of course. The “it’s just a tree” guy showed up a bit upstream^^^^. You called it.

  15. Robert Neal says:

    While hard to quantify or qualify…and I am not keeping track since there are some of your early videos that I have never seen, but this is certainly one of the best you have ever made.

  16. Mario Sill says:

    This could have been part of my favorite podcast: The Anthropocene Reviewed™.
    I give the Broccoli Tree 4 Stars

  17. The Hippie Geeks says:

    Absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking. Thank you for this.

  18. i, DK says:

    This is my favorite John video ever.

  19. Courtney Fleming says:

    I visited the site of the destroyed Golden Spruce tree in Haida Gwaii last year. It was somber, but really, the forest had swallowed up the tree again already, and it mostly just felt like any BC forest. Life had gone on.

    I also visited the site where a small golden spruce cutting had been planted in a nearby town. It was surrounded by chainlink fence topped with barbed wire. Never could a fallen tree be half as heartbreaking as a tree in a cage.

    • megan turner says:

      Courtney Fleming I’m Haida, and it’s absolutely heart breaking knowing that the golden spruce was cut down. To protest deforestation of all things. Sometimes when I think of it to much I get really angry and disappointed. Not only for the golden spruce but for all the things people decide to take. It’s senseless and unnecessary, but you have to consider why it happens. Why do people want to take what others find joy in or comfort in. I honestly think that some people are just so unhappy in the world that they just want to drag others down so they aren’t as lonely while they wallow in self pity and hatred. But on the other side of the coin there are those who celebrate in the light of creation. Not god per say but art, happiness, company, life, and love. Art like all these pictures are things I absolutely love to see, something so simple as this probably brought joy to a lot of people in some way. Remember to respect the world around you. Anything can be art. Don’t be someone who tears others down but someone who helps others rise up. And remember to create, create what you love and enjoy. Because you never know when it might bring others joy as well as yourself. As always, be the change you want to see in the world.

    • lemmingsworld says:


    • dawnscraftriot says:


  20. squttnbear says:

    How sad that some of us are so incapable of sharing in happiness over simple things, that we destroy something simply because other people love it.

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