(Cindy Angiers stands beside the trunk of one of two trees taken down recently)
Arborist with the Town of Cobourg, Rory Quigley explained to Today’s Northumberland (below) why two large trees were removed recently.
The two large tree removed at the south east end of lower Victoria Park were Eastern Cottonwood’s (Populus deltoids). The removal of a cottonwood next to the band shell 10 years ago gave us the opportunity to estimate the age by counting the rings. The total was 80 rings. Due to the comparative size between the trees we can assume that they were likely planted around the same time putting the two remaining trees at about 90 years old.
At those times, it was common to see these poplars planted. Many of these trees graced the park over the years and in fact, a row of Eastern Cottonwood trees, encircled the tennis courts, located north of where the cenotaph is. These trees failed in a major hurricane that rolled through Cobourg over 60 years ago uprooting all the trees and destroying the courts.
Cottonwoods are soft wooded and fast growing trees not unlike the Silver maples and willows that dominated the landscape of the park. Likely picked for that speedy growth, it is one of its only positive traits being a messy tree, always dropping branches, twigs and leaves due to its soft and weak wood.
Over the years differing tree planting selections for the park have been picked for one reason or another. Starting with the fast growing Silvers maples and Cottonwood’s 70 to 90 years ago. Through the 60’s and into the 70’s saw Norway maple and Mountain Ash (medium to low growing tree) and then the last 20 years with selections of Oak species, American Sycamores and hard maples. The last 3 years alone has seen the planting of over 20 large caliper trees in the upper and lowers areas of the Park.
Victoria Park tree profile is always growing and diversifying with over 228 trees with 39 different species of trees.
TID#4022 (Northern Tree) DBH 138cm; this is the smaller of the two trees. It has been topped over time to remove large section of deadwood and for the most part was just a peg. Over the past year almost all the bark has fallen off. Bore insects have been very active in this tree with some strong indication that cytospora canker was present. There is a lower scaffold branch but this too is now dead. At its base the remanence of a very serious root fungus called Armillaria spp. Its common name is Honey Mushrooms or Shoe-string mushroom. This fungi actively kills live wood and decays small and large buttressing roots jeopardizing stability of this tree.
TID#4023 (Southern Tree) DBH 176am; Many of the large upper crown limbs have been removed due to previous years die back and are just subs. Large limb section over 60cm in diameter are dead and overhang the path way under this tree. The limbs that are left are unbalanced and end heavy. Section of bark in the upper crown are now starting to come out. Bore insect very active in cambium speeding bark shedding. Some of these bark pices are over 30 cm in size. The limbs that sill show some live buds have a lot of dead wood and large section of this crown will not have leaves in the spring. There is one health lower limb coming off the main trunk but leaking in the area and a crack suggest some internal decay. The proximity of the other second cottonwood suggests root have likely grafted together over the years. If this is the case, concerns with finding Armillaria spp in the other tree are a very real concern in this tree.
This end of the park is one of the busiest areas in Cobourg, with parking, pedestrian paths and even a play area within its crown zone. Even in the off season there is a constant steam of walkers and cars to this area. These trees have reached a state of decline that cannot be managed in a manner that can have them reasonably be retained.
The goal will be to plant new trees as soon as we are able to. We are not sure yet what kind, but will be sourcing large caliber trees from are supplier and see what is arable. The other hope is that we will be able to do something with the wood such as benches like we have done with reclaimed ash wood from around town.