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The Great Quercus Alba of Glover Park Cracks

Updated: Sep 26, 2021

Glover Park’s largest tree - the great white oak towering next to Stoddert Elementary School - cracked last week, dropping a major limb and leaving a large trunk scar. The tree (species Quercus alba) likely is 250-300 years old, going by standard arborist measurement estimates: measure the circumference at a height of 4.5 feet (190 inches or nearly 16 feet), divide by pi (3.14) and multiply by a species growth factor (5 for white oak), then subtract a little for an urban environment. The grand old oak tree might have been a seedling during the Seven Years’ War when France lost its North American colonies, when Handel wrote his Messiah or Benjamin Franklin first published Poor Richard’s Almanack.

It appears the tree will survive the injury, and the Urban Forestry Division (UFD) of the DC Department of Transportation promptly trimmed the limb stump and removed the giant arm. The iconic symbol of the neighborhood and Stoddert Elementary has been suffering in recent years from scraggly, drooping and lichen-covered limbs, yet life goes on. White oaks are very sensitive to construction as well as new irrigated fields, both of which might have begun to affect the tree during the Stoddert renovation from more than a decade ago.

Check out the Urban Forestry website for everything about DC trees. They map and track every tree in a public space (176,000 at last count). Browse their DC GIS tree map and click on the tree for the status of each one. Look up open work orders for tree maintenance here, or put in your own request through DC 311. UFD has planted 8300 trees so far in DC this year, and the city has a goal of 40% canopy coverage by 2032.

Considering the price of lumber these days, the sale of that one giant limb might have solved Metro’s budget deficit…

Chris Jones

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