Big Trees on Life Support

American Forests, Winter 2000 | Go to article overview

Big Trees on Life Support


Tempestuous weather across the U.S. this year has killed or imperiled the lives of several historic trees.

In Annapolis, Maryland, Hurricane Floyd battered the nation's only surviving Liberty Tree, a tulip poplar on the grounds of St. John's College. School officials decided to fell the tree as a result of the severe damage. At least 12 inches of rain pummeled the nearly 400-year-old giant, weighing down its branches and creating a 15- to 16-foot long crack almost two inches wide from its main branch to its trunk, says college spokesperson Barbara Goyette.

Colonists planned protests beneath the canopy of so-called Liberty Trees during the Revolutionary War era. But the tree resonated with modern-day tree lovers, too. The college held graduation ceremony beneath the tree's branches, and generations of students studied under the tree.

"We at St. John's and across the land will mourn the loss of this tree. The Liberty Tree carries so much meaning to all of us as a symbol of our nation's identity," said St. John President Christopher Nelson.

Another Maryland tree, a 81-foot river birch in historic Belt Woods, has little chance of survival, says caretaker Pam Cooper of the Western Shore Conservancy. …

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