Hemlock Hating Insect: City Removes Killed Trees Along Emerald Necklace

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If you've driven along Francis Parkman Drive recently you may have seen a sizable forest area clearcut by the city to remove dead trees, some of which killed by an insect that feeds by sucking sap from hemlocks.

The city removed a grove of dead hemlock trees in an area between Francis Parkman Drive and Prince Street in June 2019.

The removed trees were between the Francis Parkman Drive and Prince Street, including a hemlock grove and individual trees that were dead or failing, said Margaret Dyson, Director of Historic Parks for the Boston Parks and Recreation Department.

The area looks to be several hundred square feet and is visible from Francis Parkman Drive.

The culprit was the hemlock woolly adelgid, which is native to east Asia, where's it not a problem because natural predators keep it in check. But on America's east coast it goes unchecked.

"Hemlock woolly adelgid (which is actually an insect) has devastated the native eastern hemlocks throughout the region," said Dyson.

For several years the city has been working on trees and tree car throughout the Emerald Necklace with the town of Brookline, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Emerald Necklace Conservancy.

Dyson said the city arborist is working with the historic parks staff to replant the area, which is not a formal designed landscape, but a woodland mix. In such a setting, typical examples of trees include red oak and white pine.

"This is consistent with Olmsted concepts, suitable for this woodland area and native.  While it is always hard to lose trees, this opening in the woodland canopy does provide an opportunity to bring in a new generation of trees to anchor the woodland for decades to come," said Dyson.