June 19, 2008
Time has come for Stanford's last officially certified historic tree
Another major section of the university's last surviving Bicentennial Oak fell off today, leaving all but an ugly stump and several branches that were lower on the trunk. The incident leaves Stanford's groundskeepers with little choice but to cut down the historic coast live oak altogether.
The more than 200-year-old tree lost two of its five enormous branches earlier this month. When they broke off on June 5, major decay in the form of a huge cavity inside the main trunk was revealed.
The oak, which is believed to have been alive in 1787, has long been a fixture on the Serra Street side of the Graduate School of Business. It was about 4 feet wide at the trunk.
No one was hurt on either of the days that the tree's limbs came crashing down, but their toppling has demonstrated thatif left standingthe surviving sections of the tree would present a safety hazard. "The thing was just ready to go," said Stanford Grounds Services Manager Herb Fong. "That tree has had significant structural impact to its root system for about the last 50 years."
A plaque at the base of the tree, placed in 1987 by the National Arborist Association and the International Society of Arboriculture, said the prized oak is believed to have been around at the time of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Surrounded by a stone retaining wall, it was dubbed the Alumni Oak when the adjacent Business School building opened in 1965.
It is the last remaining certified historic tree on Stanford's campus. A second coast live oak, a 300-year-old giant that was once the key landscape element located next to the Stanford Family Mausoleum, became diseased and was taken down in 1993.