Yard and Garden Column for the Week Beginning Aug. 1
Iowas Oldest Living Residents
By Chris Feeley
Trees are Iowas oldest living residents and many have witnessed the birth of our state. During the last few months I have had the privilege of teaching thousands of school children the importance of trees and the history they provide. For example, ancient Egyptian text describes trees being transplanted with balls of soil more than 4000 years ago. Today, we would call that a balled-and-burlapped tree. In the United States, the first recorded public shade tree planting occurred in 1646 along a road connecting Boston and Roxbury, Massachusetts.
Trees link the past to the present and are witnesses to the conditions of the past. There are many champion trees in the United States. A champion tree is the largest known tree of that species. American Forests (www.americanforests.org) maintains the list of the nations biggest trees.
A big tree in Iowa that is not a national champion, but well worth a visit is an American chestnut in Burlington. During the 1900s, a fungus causing chestnut blight was introduced into New York on imported Asian chestnut trees. By 1940, most American chestnuts had died. The tree in Dankwardt Park escaped the blight and stands today with a trunk circumference of 13 feet, 6 inches, a height of 80 feet, and an average crown spread of 63 feet.
Another Iowa big tree is an American sycamore in Geode State Park in Des Moines County near Burlington. This state champion has a trunk circumference of 21 feet 7 inches, a height of 102 feet, and an average crown spread of 83 feet.
The Plow In the Oak Tree
The Council Oak Tree
Trees planted today can record our history for future generation. There are many books and Web sites that talk about big trees of the United States. The list for Iowa is maintained by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry (http://www.iowadnr.com/forestry/bigtree.html). Perhaps you know of a larger tree than those on the list. If so, measure that tree and complete the nomination form on that Web site. Who knows, perhaps you have an Iowa big tree or even a national champion big tree on your property.
Editors: There is no photo this week.
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