Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Historic Kewanee Maclura Saved (without a Tree Tube)

Ten days ago I received the following emergency email Guy Sternberg sent to his closest 1,000 friends. Guy was responding to this message from Jim Ream.


. . . I have some bad news. The city of Kewanee will take down the big hedge tree on Tuesday. Safety hazard they say.


Guy wrote:

How many of you copied here can jump on this, contact Kewanee, and help persuade them to step back and think it over a little more? Before Tuesday!!! I'm sure Jim Ream can give us the phone numbers, etc. -- contact him at ream1946@yahoo.com . A photo of the tree with a detail inset of the plaque is attached.

Jim, please send the name, e-mail, and phone number of the person(s) we should contact. If you hit "reply to all" everyone here will have it. The historic Potter Farm Osage-orange (Maclura pomifera) was one of Professor Turner's original trees from the 1840s and should be given due process before being destroyed. We need to get on this NOW if we are to have any hope of changing the outcome by Tuesday.

Thanks everyone --

Guy S.

Guy Sternberg
Starhill Forest Arboretum
12000 Boy Scout Trail
Petersburg, IL 62675 (USA)



We had two days to save the tree.

Here is Guy with the Kewanee Maclura. The problem having Guy in a picture with a tree is he makes the tree look small. (He is a "mid" 6 footer)

My wife Mitz & I spent part of a wonderful day last summer at Guy's arboretum known as Starhill Forest. Guy was instrumental in the pioneering the use of tree tubes to establish oak trees around Lincoln's Tomb. In my experience the only sure way to grow a monumental tree is to start with a very young plant and grow it where you want it. Small seedling trees easily develop root systems with well spaced radial structures that can nourish and support a tree into old age.

When we left the arboretum we were shown more historic and champion trees in a few hours than I usually see in a year.

Short story shorter. Guy and his band prevailed and saved the tree - at least for the moment. Now comes the hard part. It was trimmed to reduce the strain, but needs some permanent support. That takes money. On Monday Guy wrote the following:

Subject: Gentlemen, start your checkbooks!

We now have an official bank account established for the Kewanee Osage-orange! Mayor Bruce Tossell joined forces with the Chamber of Commerce and the local bank to set this up. The account is restricted to expenditures for the historic tree, and all withdrawals must be cosigned by at least two of the three people representing the Chamber, the City, and the Bank.

Please inform all of your friends/listeners/readers who would like to help with this project that checks should be made payable to KEWANEE OSAGE-ORANGE FUND and sent as soon as possible to:

Peoples National Bank of Kewanee, attn: Terri Russell

207 North Tremont Street

Kewanee, Illinois 61443

Plantra is sending $100. Please feel free to contribute.

The images above were taken by Jason Knowles.

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