Tai Po's wishing tree, which almost died two years ago under the weight of offerings thrown onto it, has been voted the 'banyan tree of the Hong Kong people' that best carries the collective memory of Hongkongers. The century-old tree won 2,286 votes in a poll in which more than 10,000 people voted online in the last quarter of last year for 12 trees and groups of banyans based on their historical and cultural associations. Yuen Long Kam Tin Tree House and the Chinese banyans along Nathan Road came second and third with 2,104 and 1,916 votes. 'The banyan is one of the most commonly found types of trees across the city,' said Cheng Luk-ki, scientific research and conservation head of environmental group Green Power, which jointly ran the poll with NWS Holdings Charities Foundation. 'Many hardy and long-lived banyans have witnessed the changes of this city and its people.' Growing near a Tin Hau temple in Lam Tsuen, Tai Po, Hong Kong's No1 banyan served as a wish-making site for years for luck seekers who threw offerings and messages into its branches. When a main branch broke off in February 2005 it became obvious that too much wishful thinking was endangering the tree's existence. Luck seekers were banned from throwing items onto the tree, supports were constructed for at-risk branches and more soil was exposed around the tree to give it adequate aeration. 'It seems that these measures are working,' Dr Cheng said, adding that the tree had grown new buds and leaves. Some voters said the survival of the wishing tree showed its persistence and resilience - traits regarded as being prevalent among Hong Kong people - while others believed the reason it best represented Hong Kong was because it was imbued with Hongkongers' wishes. Lam Tsuen native Chung Wing-kam, 64, said: 'It was painful to see this big tree dying. Now I just wish the wishing tree good health.'