The new Magnolia Oak, which was planted Wednesday, July 8, is undergoing stress from the transplantation, resulting in a few brown leaves.
Gary Keever, professor of horticulture, said there is little change in appearance of the oak.
He said by looking closely, one can see the discoloration of the leaves are because of broken shoots, which probably occurred when the oak was dug, transported or transplanted.
Keever also said Landscape Services is irrigating it frequently and closely monitoring the oak by watering it and applying light amounts of fertilizer.
Ben Burmester, campus planner, said the university is not as concerned about the brown leaves since they think it’s mainly from the transport.
“We knew there was going to be some damage to the leaves just from the literal operations needed to sinch up that tree and get it so it could be fit on a truck and delivered here,” Burmester said.
Burmester said the key is making sure the oak has the right amount of water in the heat.
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“We want to make sure we’re giving it plenty, but we’re also not wanting to give it too much,” Burmester said. “So we’re trying to give it that balance of just the right amount, so that’s just kind of our main focus right now.”
Some concerns have been raised over if the oak will need to be replaced.
“Let’s hope not,” Keever said. “No, there’s nothing to suggest that. I would expect the tree to undergo a certain amount of stress.”
Keever said he would expect this because during the transplantation the nylon mesh wrapped around the root ball was ripped off.
He said the workers were using shovels to remove the mesh that was put on the oak when it was dug a year and a half ago.
The mesh retained the new roots formed during that period.
“The roots had grown through that mesh and that material didn’t come off easily, so in essence, it tore a lot of the roots at the peripheral of the [root] ball,” Keever said.
He said this was similar to root pruning, where roots are deliberately cut to stimulate new growth.
Keever said he spoke with Landscape Services on Wednesday morning, July 29, and said the next time Tim Thoms, tree consultant, came on site, he would like to look at the root growth outside the root ball.
“We’ve done that before, where we just excavate a small hole right at the boundary, between the root ball and the new soil to see if there’s new roots growing into it,” Keever said. “That’s a good indication of how the tree’s responding to being moved.”
Keever said there isn’t any wilting or leaf drop.
“There’s nothing to indicate that the tree is stressed,” Keever said.
Burmester said the university feels good about the oak’s condition so far and will continue to monitor it.
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