Monday, September 17, 2012

Massive tree was probably just old

The sudden collapse of that massive Heritage tree in the Washington Park neighborhood late last month left many of us wondering what the cause might have been.  As we reported at the time, the catalpa speciosa, which was approximately 85 feet tall and 75 feet wide, was apparently undiseased, yet it crashed to the ground without the impetus of either appreciable wind or water saturation of the surrounding ground.

Though the tree was gradually removed from the street during the week following its toppling, the homeowner has been left to dig out the lower woody sections and roots. That's where we found him last Sunday when we happened to drive by, so we pulled over to ask what's the rest of the story. "Inconclusive," was the answer.  It is not obvious why the tree fell, he said, but he suspects that for this particular tree it was just its time.  He estimates that the tree was probably 80 or more years old (he has a picture of the tree standing in front of his house in 1939, he said, when the tree was only about 12 ft. high).  He noted, however, that some of the wood he's dug out shows evidence of voids that might have weakened the tree and could be evidence of disease that was not detectable on the tree's exterior:

And will he be replacing the tree with another catalpa?  Not likely, he told us.  No decision yet, but it will definitely be a lower-growing variety.


  1. Great headline. I am thinking it DEFINITELY was old.

    "Massive" trees always are.

    1. Good point, but the "old" is modified by "just" which in this case implies that oldness may well have been the sole cause of the toppling, rather than other factors.

    2. Honestly, you have nothing better to do than (incorrectly) criticize a headline?

  2. OR, maybe my comment wasn't critical at all, but rather pointed out the ironic humor in the headline.

    I know you dabble in ironic humor yourself, because your taking the time to comment about me wasting my time making comments, was very ironic. Thank you for making me smile.

    Despite appearances, there is no rule that says everyone has to be mean and snotty on the internet. True, anonymity affords us that opportunity, but it doesn't mean we all have to seize it.


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