The psychology behind Dendrophiles: understanding the love for trees
Life Style

The psychology behind Dendrophiles: understanding the love for trees


In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks. 

John Nicer

Dendrophilia can be described as the immense love and connection, some people have for trees and nature. Some people tend to feel an emotional connection with trees and nature and there can be various reasons for this such as the desire to attain a sense of calm, sense of tranquillity, such people tend to spend more time in nature. They would always choose scenic beauty over any other wonder of the world, always. 

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The term dendrophilia comes from the Greek word ‘Dendron’ which means tree and ‘philia’ which means love or affection. It is often used to describe the emotional attachment and appreciation. Let’s talk about some famous personalities or say Dendrophiles and a few cultural references. 

  • Tree of life: This concept has been introduced in a lot of religions and cultures in different ways to break down the concept of interconnectedness, Growth, and cycle of life. 
  • Wangari Maathai: A Kenyan environmentalist and activist, known for the Green Belt movement, which was an environmental organisation started by him. 
  • John Muir: He has been a famous naturalist and conservationist. He wrote for the preservation of wilderness areas in the US. 
  • The Giving Tree: A famous book written by Shel Silverstein, narrates the story of a tree’s unconditional love and attachment towards a boy throughout his life. 
  • Druids: Some specific trees such as Oak, Rowan, and yew were considered special in druidic rituals as a part of Celtic culture. 
  • The worship: All of us are aware that a few cultures have some trees that they consider sacred and they worship those trees too, honouring them as symbols of fertility, protection and abundance. 

Psychological roots of dendrophilia 

  • Biophilia Hypothesis: It was given by EO Wilson, the hypothesis tries to draw our attention to the innate human tendency to build a connection with nature and other living beings. It is believed that this tendency stems from our evolutionary history. 
  • Evolutionary Perspective: Considering years of evolution as a reference point, it is evident that every living being has been in some form of relationship with nature, making it obvious to have an emotional connection and dependence on nature. 
  • Restorative Effects: It’s been proved through research and studies that more the time spent in nature, less is the mental stress and issues reported. 

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Cultural and spiritual significance 

We tend to attach our religious and spiritual beliefs to natural entities, the trees, the flora and the fauna. Trees hold immense importance in our life apart from their gaseous exchange, it is believed trees add value, positivity, and a sense of abundance to our life. 

Scientific insights 

There have been researches that proved there is a correlation between mental health and trees. People who have more exposure to nature and green spaces tend to have better physical and mental health. 

It’s said that when you spend more time you are enhancing the quality of your life. Spending more time in nature instead of on screen will enhance your attention span, and cognitive functions, improve your mood, and reduce your stress levels and anxiety. If you live around green spaces or trees, that will ensure lower levels of anxiety, depression and fatigue. 

Trees have a special element called phytoncides which is an airborne, chemical that the tree releases in its surroundings and it has anti-microbial properties. It’s said that when someone inhales this while walking down a green space, in a forest or around trees, this chemical boosts their immunity and lowers the levels of stress hormones. 

The scientific insights aim to draw the attention of the urban population that nature is the ultimate solution to many of their issues. 

Forest bathing (Shinrin Yoku) 

Shinrin Yoku is a Japanese practice which is forest bathing. It simply means engaging yourself in the natural forest to improve your physical and mental well-being. This concept is based on the thought that spending more time in nature has a therapeutic effect on our mind and body. People tend to walk slowly, or try breathing exercises and engage their senses in the greenery.

The practice emphasizes the mental health and physical presence of an individual in that present moment, paying attention to the visuals, the smell and the sounds. Studies on the Shinrin Yoku have recorded positive outcomes like lower levels of cortisol, lower blood pressure, better mode, and better immunity. It’s one of those holistic approaches to encourage people to prioritize their physical and mental health just by simple practice. 

Practical ways to embrace dendrophilia 

It’s a great step in pushing people towards a better quality of life. Let us discover some ways that you can try in your daily life. 

  • Forest bathing: It just involves spending time in nature and being mindful and present without any screen or device. 
  • Tree planting: Plant as many as trees you can. You can have your kitchen garden if you don’t have a huge piece of land. 
  • Nature walks: Having a 15-minute walk in natural settings, in the park around trees can be a great energy booster and stress buster for you. 

Loving trees is the best thing you can do if you love yourself. It’s like investing time in nature’s insurance policy. The best thing to energize yourself is take a stroll in the park or just sit in peace, reducing screen time and other harmful practices. Dendrophilia encourages happy living.

Reference +
  • Confessions of a dendrophile. Wonderground.
  • When Tree hugging leads to heavy petting: An introduction to dendrophilia. Inverse. (2016, April 22).
  • Dendrophilia nature refuge – facts and maps. – facts and maps (Department of Environment, Science and Innovation). (n.d.).

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