MSUToday
Published: Nov. 10, 2017

Historic tree to be substantially trimmed

Contact(s): Layne Cameron Media Communications office: (517) 353-8819 cell: (765) 748-4827 Layne.Cameron@cabs.msu.edu, Frank Telewski Beal Botanical Garden/Plant Biology office: (517) 884-0764 telewski@msu.edu

Michigan State University arborists are planning on significantly trimming a historic tree on campus in an effort to preserve it.

In 2012, a major crack caused by lightning was discovered in the large dawn redwood tree in Beal Botanical Garden. Over the years, the exposed wood decayed, and now the top of the tree is threatened. 

More than 20 feet will be removed from the top to prevent it from snapping off in a future windstorm, according to Frank Telewski, director of the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden, and Paul Swartz, campus arborist.

“There are many who know and love this tree as do I,” Telewski said. “It is with great sadness that we make this decision, but it is one that we feel is critical to the future survival of this historically important tree and for the safety of all who visit Beal Botanical Garden.”

Every Spartan tree has a story, Telewski likes to say. This majestic tree was planted in 1954. It was received from Donald Wyman, then director of the Arnold Arboretum, and Milton Baron, then director of MSU’s campus park and planning. It is one of the original trees grown from seeds gathered during a joint expedition to China by the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, eminent Chinese professor Wan Chun Cheng and Hu Xiansu, founder of the Lushan Botanical Garden.  

Large dawn redwood tree in Beal Botanical Garden. Photo by Kurt Stepnitz

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