Two Red Oaks Topple in Arboretum

June 24th, 2010 by UWBG Horticulturist

Root wad of fallen red oak in west lagoon

Two leaning mature red oaks (Quercus rubra) fell last week in the arboretum. The one that went down at the north end of Azalea Way, near our famous propped Willow oak, was witnessed by several onlookers as our arborist Chris Watson was hurredly trying to stablize it from going over. He never had a chance. The popping and cracking noises from severing roots on the backside kept getting louder and more frequent. It was sad and awesome at the same time. Not many people get to see a large tree go down on its own volition.  The other oak is located at the water’s edge in the west lagoon area. This oak was significant from a curation standpoint too.  It was wild-collected in the Adirondacks in 1958 by the Morton arboretum. Arboretum staff hope to keep its massive root wad (see photo) intact for interpretive and educational opportunities.  Both oaks were leaning and growing in shallow soils, had insufficient support roots, extraordinary spring growth and wet, heavy foliage when they failed. The fact that there were two trees of the same species topple  at approximately the same time was indeed a rare coincidence in the arboretum.


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