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Tree "Dicke Marie" in Tegel Forest
Tree "Dicke Marie" © BA Reinickendorf

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Dicke Marie

A distinguished presence

In Tegel Forest there is a huge oak tree called Dicke Marie. It’s the oldest tree in Berlin and is even older than the city itself.

Dicke Marie – fat Mary – was once the nickname of a cook, but today, it’s the name of Berlin’s oldest living resident. Nobody knows exactly how old Dicke Marie is – and no-one can ask her either. She is thought to be between 800 and 900 years old. If you still haven’t guessed: Dicke Marie is the oldest tree in the Berlin – older than the city itself.

A fabled past

In 1237 Dicke Marie was already watching as the mediaeval town grew up nearby. Later she saw robber barons and kings riding through the woods by Lake Tegel where she lived then and still does today. Many trees have grown up around her to keep her company. The famous poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is said to have paid her a visit when passing through. It was only later that the pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) was given the name “Dicke Marie” by two young boys.

How Dicke Marie got her name

Those two boys were none other than Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt, who grew up in the palace known as Schloss Tegel, where their tutors taught them statistics, economics, natural law and philosophy. To amuse themselves, they would sometimes wander through the woods, always looking for new adventures. Once, they came across the huge oak tree. legend has it that the boys were amazed by the tree and it reminded them of their cook. From then on, they called it “Dicke Marie” after their sturdily built cook.

Tegel Forest: a popular day-trip destination

From the harbour bridge in Tegel it’s only a few minutes’ walk to Dicke Marie, who is waiting for you in Tegel Forest. When you visit the castle or take a steamer trip, it’s well worth taking time to see the famous oak. The 26-metre-tall tree has an aura of calm and wisdom. If you want to enjoy the countryside even more, you can also visit the nearby Humboldt Oak.