tree of life

cumquat

When I gave birth last year here at home, there were already long held plans of what I was going to do with my placenta. I wanted to plant it, to honour it and give it the respect it deserved by planting a tree over it. My only slight problem, was that I didn’t have access to dirt, real in the ground dirt.

My images of planting a tree, that would one day be metres and metres tall, providing shade and perhaps some sort of food that my grown up children could eat from, would have to be slightly deviated from. (We live in a rented apartment, with a small shared courtyard.) There were no substitute backyards to choose from for us and I wasn’t convinced some guerilla gardening placenta style in our local park would work with long term results.

So with that in mind, we kept it frozen in an ice cream container until the right day came along.

Finally the time felt right. A large pot was bought and filled, ready to take in the precious cargo. I still hadn’t quite decided on what plant was going to go in, but I was ready to make the first step in honouring our placenta. After some whispered personal words, and a few fascinated pokes, prods and careful watching from the little people. I covered it with soil. Loosely covering the top of the pot with another pot, so no neighbouring dogs would try to investigate. I could then let the placenta gently break down before having something planted over it.

One month went by, and it had completely broken down. Every little part of it. You would never have known what was once there. Magic.

Now I just had to decide what to go over the top?

I narrowed it down to a citrus or an olive tree. Something that could handle being in a pot and wouldn’t mind the somewhat brief sunlight that my little courtyard could offer it. Β I talked with Nick from Milkwood to see what he suggested and a cumquat came up. I felt a bit mean initially, as I was the only who actually liked them. But I did like them, actually I loved them, and maybe one day this little girl would love them too. What sold me completely was standing before the ‘Australian Cumquat’ in the nursery and seeing the sign say, “hardy” and “well suited to pots”. I think this was our plant.

chocolate mint

I have had a few strange looks from people when I’ve mention what we did. However, now Β the idea of just tossing the placenta in a bin or incinerator sounds far more ridiculous and less than respectful to me. Our ‘Australian Cumquat’ has been planted, and along with it some companion plants along side it, (trying to think along permaculture lines.)

allysum

mint and lemon balm

Chocolate Mint, chives, and alyssums for keeping moisture in, (instead of using mulch and being useful at the same time.) Plants chosen for being edible or encouraging of bees, hopefully not going to compete for too much root space and fragrant enough to deter pests. Two pots either side of this now also have regular mint and lemon balm. On the other side rosemary- which also flowers, encouraging bees and has a pest deterring fragrance. Above the cumquat on the fence line, more sweet scented alyssum.

I’m hoping I’ve got it right and these plants will all be happy where they are. At the very least, I’ve now got a tiny once concrete corner that is already bringing joy. Just knowing that in our tiny backyard space, our plants are doing what that precious placenta first set out to do, bringing life.

A tree of life.

cityhippyfarmgirl

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If you are thinking about planting your own tree of life, some sites that might be helpful.

Birth to Earth

Tips for planting a placenta fruit tree.

How about you? Are there any particular cultural customs that you observe? Have you planted a placenta?

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33 thoughts on “tree of life

  1. wow placentas are amazing!!!! I didnt get to see mine as I had an emergency c section. Ive never seen one before thanks for posting these pics. I think its natural that to use something that is so nutrient rich to enrich another living thing. A placenta is designed to provide nutrients and to give life using it as fertilizer to a plant is an obvious way to do this. Comquats do really well in pots. By the time you have your own garden you can transplant it to a bigger pot and it will looks fantastic on a patio or deck and give you lots of fruit.
    A really interesting post thanks for sharing!

    Helen πŸ™‚

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    • Thank you Helen, glad you liked it. I’ve seen a few really happy cumquats in pots since I planted it, so I’m hopeful it will flourish. As for placentas, they really are quite amazing aren’t they πŸ™‚

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  2. things have changed so much since i was a midwife and since i had my bairns..in my time placenta’s were always examined carefully following the birth and the size and other details were recorded..they were then indecorously put in a placenta muncher..i don’t remember anyone ever wanting to see their placenta or keep it..i didn’t see the three from the births of my children..but i was confined to bed with my three and given no opportunity to walk about either so there’s been a huge progression in midwifery practice..now birthing plans mean parents have a say about the how, where and even the when of the birth of their child which is a really good thing..

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  3. Love it! We have 2 in the freezer and another placenta arriving in November! We now have our very own garden and orchard and bare root tree stocks are arriving any week. There has been much discussion and excitement about which trees the kids would pick for their placentas. Apparently passionfruit absolutely adore it!

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  4. I love what you have done here, I remember reading about them getting sold to cosmetics companies once upon a time, no idea if that is true or not, but I thought it was just wrong. Giving back to the Earth is a wonderful way to complete a very long big cycle of events. Beautiful post! x

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  5. We too had a home birth and everything went to plan but we never did think about what to do with the placenta, and in some ways I am glad as with our move,t he placenta and its tree would likely have remained at the old house – which would have been hard. In saying that, I did seriously consider encapsulation which is another great way to return the placenta to the world (I’m not up to a chilli like some are – kudos to them I say) but when I mentioned it to hubby I was met with such a resounding YUK I wasn’t game to ask for the necessary $$$.
    Next time (and I hope there is a next time) I will definitely not be sending away our placenta as waste. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  6. It is common here in NZ to take home your placenta and you are always asked if you want to keep it. I like the idea, a placenta is such an amazing thing it seems good to treat it with respect

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  7. I have no idea what happened to my three placentas. I had all my babies in hospital so I guess they were all discarded along with all the other ‘waste’. I guess when you have a home birth you’re provided with more choices. I think planting a tree in its honour is a wonderful idea. I’m sure the cumquat tree will grow very well xx

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  8. I love that your placenta photo looks like it has an actual tree print on it. They really are amazing arn’t they?
    I love your choice of a cumquat, I too LOVE these sour little citrus fruits
    My placenta too was whisked off to the hospital lab, thought they did tell me something interesting after investigation: my placenta has a little second placenta growing on the side! My daughter could’ve been a twin, or maybe my placenta had duped itself lol who knows….

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  9. I am too squeamish to even look at the placenta photos but I think that having trees in our life is very very healthy and there is something lovely about giving them meaning that makes being around them even more enjoyable. I hope your cumquat tree is fruitful

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  10. This is new to me but does make sense – it breaks down and provides nourishment for the tree, similar to planting a tree when we bury our dogs or a dead chookie. Hope the ice cream container was labelled πŸ™‚ Joy

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  11. This is amazing Brydie, great photos and it makes perfect sense when you think about it. Your cumquat looks so healthy.

    I did take a quick peek at each placenta when my two babies were born but I barley remember in among all the other things that were happening at that incredible time immediately after giving birth. Your placenta photos are fascinating.

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  12. That’s lovely. We planted ours under the big lemon tree in the chook’s section of the backyard (ie. fenced off from the doggie section!) We’re in a rental too, and i would so like to have had our homebirth in our own house, and planted the placenta in our own garden, but we’re happy with what we did – we’re good friends with our landlords so will hopefully have a link to this house when we move out.

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  13. Hi, i love the idea and want to plant as well but in pot. What are the measurements for the flower pot? I have read that it should be like 6m and then i read 1m high. I hope that you see the post as i need to plant it this weekend. Thank you very much for sharing your experience as its difficult to find any help from online πŸ™‚
    yammu

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    • Hi Yammu. Yay, that’s exciting for your weekend! The size of my pot is about 50cm by 50cm.
      Good luck and come back if I can help out any more as I know there is not much on line about placenta planting in pots πŸ™‚

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  14. If you have any trouble, citrus/fortunella don’t like anything growing near their shallow feeder roots. The nutrients are probably excellent albeit a little high in iron / sodium but that shouldn’t worry a cumquat much.

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  15. Pingback: How to Plant a Placenta Tree for Your Baby

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