Winds from severe storms on Monday night caused damage across eastern Iowa and some beloved trees on the Pentacrest were not spared. This morning we bid farewell to the incredibly iconic and beautiful European Larch (Larix decidua) whose limbs and character and placement have been most inviting for as many years as rings can be counted in her severed trunk.
The east lawn outside of The University of Iowa Museum of Natural History is home to another favorite tree on the Pentacrest. The Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) is one of 6 State Champion trees on the University of Iowa campus, holding the title as the largest Walnut in Iowa. This giant suffered a fair amount of limb loss that scatters the lawn today. Even with the loss, her title isn't in jeopardy.
University of Iowa Landscape Services Shawn Fitzpatrick told us he got a call at about 1:10am from Public Safety about various tree damages about campus. Work began for some Facilities staff by 2am this morning. Fitzpatrick reports other damage that required immediate assistance near the Arts Campus with a tree blocking a lane of traffic, another tree down near Dental Science, and severe damage to a large Sycamore near the Dan Forth Chapel.
"We replace them as we lose them," Fitzpatrick told us, "We plant at least 300 trees each year and though we lose others, we always plant more than we lose."
We were pleased to hear that consideration for a replacement tree on the Pentacrest would include something that could grow to be as welcoming for photo-ops, shade seekers, hammocks, and children. In fact, we learned today of future plans to install metal poles in shaded areas for hammocks and slack lining to keep trees safe while encouraging outdoor play.
May our facilities team get some rest and may our new trees grow fast!
While investigating the tree tragedies on the Pentacrest that morning, we were delighted to meet University of Iowa Associate Professor of Biology, Dr. Erin Irish at the scene of the wind-crime. Dr. Irish teaches the plant related portions of "Bio 2" (Diversity of Form and Function, BIOL:1412) and another upper level course, Plant Developmental Biology. She had long been an advocate for the European Larch, lobbying for protective signage to be placed around the tree during large events.
"I will be doing some research on rooting larch branches to see if we can clone the plant, and also on how to get seeds to germinate from the cones I collected," Dr. Irish told us as she pruned small branches from the fallen tree.