Fallen historic tree at Arlington: replace it with a centennial tree (photos)

Birmingham Alabama

Last week, Birmingham experienced some pre-dawn winds that blew down trees and caused sporadic power outages. A casualty from the gusty winds that topped 40 mph was a historic tree on the grounds of the Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens.

One of Magic City’s original treasures, the Arlington Home was built nearly 30 years before the founding of Birmingham in 1871.

Photo from the Library of Congress, 1937
Approximately 120 years old

Above is a 1937 Library of Congress photo of Arlington and the sugar berry tree that had fallen last week.  Bham Now asked Henry Hughes, V.P. of Education at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens to help us identify the tree and its approximate age.  At the time the photo was taken in the 1930s, he estimated that the tree was about 40 years old.  That would make the fallen tree approximately 120 years old today.

Here are photos of the fallen tree.

Arlington Tree

Note the massive wound on the tree compared to the picture in the 30s. According to Hughes, this may have led to the tree’s demise making it vulnerable to infection and disease.  He also said the sugar berry trees are prone to splitting like the tree at Arlington did.

A replacement? A centennial tree

So how do appropriately replace a century-old tree?  The Birmingham Botanical Gardens has the answer. Replace them with centennial trees.

Now in its ninth year, the Garden’s Centennial Tree Program is a community education initiative to replant public spaces in the Birmingham area with native trees grown from locally collected seed. About a 1000 centennial trees are planted annually by local volunteers.

“The central idea of the Centennial Tree Program is that locally sourced native trees are best for Birmingham for aesthetic, ecological and cultural reasons. They are as iconic to our local landscapes as our architecture. They are synchronized with the surrounding forest, including migratory birds that depend on timely bud break and dormancy onset,” stated Hughes.

As we mourn the fallen historic tree at Arlington, the good news is that it can be replaced by a tree that is native to Birmingham.  That’s good for nature and it fits nicely with the historic place that is Arlington.

Birmingham Alabama
Arlington Home and Gardens

To learn more about the Centennial Tree Program visit  – http://www.bbgardens.org/tree-restoration-project.php

 

Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.