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Davis, California

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Campus feels loss of iconic Arboretum tree

The Arboretum’s Japanese Zelkova tree was recently removed due to safety concerns, but paved the way towards potential future projects to combat climate change


By SYDNEY AMESTOY — campus@theaggie.org 


The UC Davis Arboretum recently saw the removal of one of its most iconic trees due to a safety issue caused by a structural flaw in its trunk.

The historic Japanese Zelkova tree has sat on the shore of Lake Spafford since it was planted there in the 1960’s. It was removed on Sep. 14 after the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Gardens (APG) crew discovered a large crack in the tree’s trunk. 

Crews attempted to preserve the tree through a series of corrective measures, according to the APG’s press release. This included eliminating 50 percent of the tree’s canopy to correct the crack. 

Andrew Fulks, assistant director of the APG, spoke with KCRA news about the emotional decision to take down the tree.

“It’s hard to see it go,” Fulks said. “This is one of the most beloved trees on campus.”

However, there are plans in the works for a planting event in honor of the tree, according to the APG website.

Tyler Kern, a campus urban forester with APG said that the crack shows us that there have been advancements in forestry since the tree was planted.

“Over the years, we’ve gained valuable insights into the significance of proper pruning and maintenance for young trees,” Kern said in the press release. “[This is] knowledge that this tree would have benefitted from.” 

The removal comes as the area once home to the Zelkova tree is planned to be revitalized in the coming years. This is part of the Arboretum Waterway Flood Protection and Habitat Enhancement Project, according to a press release about the effort. 

The multi-million dollar project seeks to protect the Arboretum Waterway from the effects of climate change by controlling the flow of stormwater with new pumps, and eliminating the concrete edge running along the creek, according to the press release from APG. 

“This was a very sad and difficult decision,” Chancellor Gary May said in a tweet on Sept. 12, just before the tree’s removal. “I want to thank our amazing [APG] staff for keeping our natural spaces iconic, safe and healthy. We’ll miss [the Zelkova tree].” 


Written by: Sydney Amestoy — campus@theaggie.org