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Story of the month

Witch's Broom. A party that got out of hand

They are easy to spot in birch trees in the autumn and the winter: one or more branches with a large number of smaller side growth. The so-called Witches Broom. How these resulted from a wild growth of twigs and involved witches is the subject of the following tale whose roots certainly lie in medieval times. There's no way you can smell, see or hear them: witches look no different to any other ordinary women. They live among us without our realizing it. And by day they also behave like everyone ...

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Nature stories, myths and legends about plants and animals have been told for many centuries and sometimes even date back thousands of years. They are ‘living stories’, by which is meant that they alter in the course of time, because they are modified by the predominating culture and by the storyteller’s preferences.

A plant or animal comes far more to life for many people, young and old, when it figures in a story or an anecdote. A good nature story ensures that they are instilled with a sense of wonder; they look and listen more carefully. So when they see a skylark, they will think about the story of why it sings as it flies through the sky. Or during a walk in the woods they will remember why the oak keeps its leaves in winter. Each month a story appears on this site about a plant, animal, bird, insect or tree from Western Europe.

In 2003 this nature story site was started in The Netherlands for the benefit of nature guides wanting to take groups of people on nature excursions. In 2008 the translation of the stories into German and French were added, followed by English in 2009.

Click on the menu above to access the other stories or background information.

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Everyone is welcome to use the stories for nature excursions or courses. For publication purposes prior permission must be requested.

© text and photos: Els Baars, unless otherwise indicated. e-mail

English translation: Sarah Hopman-Edge

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