Famous Trees

Kirk Johnson newkirk at olywa.net
Thu Dec 18 07:22:43 EST 1997


In article <3497A807.5F9F at uws.edu.au>, m.steven at uws.edu.au wrote:

> We are preparing material for a course on plants in society. An aspect
> of the course is an examination of the role that certain trees
> (individual
> specimens, not forests) have played in the myths and legends of
> society or groups of people. Some trees may be significant due to their
> association with some historic event, or there may be certain legends or
> stories attached to them. Is anyone aware of any individual
> mythical/legendary trees, anywhere around the world? If so, please let
> me know,including details of where the tree is to be found and why it is
> significant.

 I grew up in upstate NY. When I was a teen, I worked summers for a tree
specialist who fertilized trees, and helped sick trees with fungicides and
whatnot. Well, one of our biggest jobs every year was to go down to the
West Point military acadamy and treat the trees throughout the campus. The
most famous tree there was an old purple beech in the yard of the
General's house. It was planted in the very early 1800's, and was famous
because cadets would occasionaly sneak into the yard late at night after
curfew, and carve their names on the tree somewhere. This had gone on for
more than a century. This tree had two main trunks, and over the years, a
crack had developed between the two. No shit, we were there treating the
tree one day in the summer of 89, I believe, and loud pops began eminating
at a greater and greater frequency from inside the main cracked area.
Pretty soon we knew it was going to go. The boss had us run out from under
the tree, no time to gather the equipment, and we watched an *enormous*,
180 year old purple beach split apart and fall to the ground. It was one
of the most amazing things I've ever seen. Everyone was pretty stunned, I
took some seeds to try and grow at home, but never got them to sprout.

Kirk Johnson



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