Storms Take Toll on Arnold Arboretum Trees

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Around 30 trees at the Arnold Arboretum have been removed or will be removed after sustaining substantial damage by the recent nor'easter storms.

William (Ned) Friedman, Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

The Arnold Arboretum lost numerous trees due to Winter Storm Riley that hit Boston on March 2nd, 2018, including this spruce.

The first storm on March 2nd caused major damage to more than 30 accessioned trees. An accessioned tree means its been documented as part of the arboretum's collection of more than 15,000 plants. Arboretum staff determined the following day that 22 specimens -- mostly pine, spruce, fir and hemlock species, would require being removed, according to the Arnold Arboretum's website.

The March 8th storm affected another handful of trees with the bulk of the damage in the conifer collection, said Jon Hetman, Associate Dir. of External Relations and Communications for the Arnold Arboretum, to Jamaica Plain News.

Hetman said that between the two storms 40 to 45 trees suffered major damage, but it should be viewed in the context of how large the arboretum's collection is and "the fact that we routinely lose between 300 and 400 accessioned plants every year due to old age, pests and disease, and severe weather events."

"The good news is that while this was a major set of back-to-back storms for us, the damage was not more widespread, which speaks to the robust preventative care provided to our trees year round," added Hetman.

William (Ned) Friedman, Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

This spruce, picea abies 'Virgata,' was damaged in the March 2nd, 2018 storm and needed to be removed from the Arnold Arboretum.

"Two painful losses" during the first storm were the "beloved" centenarian dragon spruce (Picea asperata) and Wilson spruce (Picea wilsonii), collected by famed Arboretum plant explorers Ernest Henry Wilson and William Purdom, on separate expeditions to China in 1910.

"A bright spot is that many of these trees were already in process of being repropagated, or will be repropagated with germplasm collected after the storm—in fact, the Manchurian pear we lost on Peters Hill was a 1981 repropagation of our original 1918 accession of Manchurian pear, which was collected by Ernest Henry Wilson in Japan and which still survives at the Arboretum," said Hetman.