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The Dry tree (or Solitary tree) is a legendary tree. Because of its ability to battle anyone near it[citation needed]. The first recording about it was done by Marco Polo, somewhere in the wastelands of northern Persia. According to Polo, it was the only tree within hundreds of miles of desert. The legend said that the Dry Tree marked the exact spot of the great battle between Alexander the Great and Darius. It is not clear whether this 'great battle' refers to the battle of Issus or of Gaugamela, or both. The purported location—somewhere in Khorasan, near the border with present day Turkmenistan—is also impossible to ascertain, because Darius had already been assassinated when Alexander reached these regions.


Polo describes the Dry Tree as large tree with green leaves on one side and white leaves on the other. For that reason, the Dry tree should be a platanus.

A solitary dry tree is also visible on the famous Issus-mosaic from Pompeii, showing the exact location where Alexander and Darius came face to face.

The Dry tree has been reported later by the Bavarian adventurer Johannes Schiltberger, who compared it to the Oak of Mamre. He said that Muslims called this tree "Kurrutherek" or "Sirpe". This last word is close to the Turco-Persian word meaning "cyperus". The Spanish ambassador Clavijo said that the tree was in Tabriz.

Though the story is a legend, solitary trees are not. The Ténéré tree was a famous tree in the West-African state of Niger, serving both as a landmark and a national monument, but the tree was knocked down by a drunken truck driver in 1973. The nearest tree to it was 400 km away.


  • "Alexander the Great's web site". Archived from the original on February 16, 2007.
  • Travels of Marco Polo
  • This page is a translation of its French equivalent.