Courthouse conifer crowned
The Daily Citizen
at the southwest corner of the courthouse lawn, the lone conifer tree has
seen better days. Its badly twisted trunk supports gangly, sweeping
branches that still hold strands of decades-old Christmas lights too high
But this tree should not be
It is a champion.
The Deodar Cedar, scientifically
known as Cedrus Deodara, is the largest of its species in the state
according to the Arkansas Forestry Commission. In a letter to White County
Judge Bob Parish, the commission determined that the courthouse tree is
currently the largest Deodar Cedar we have on record and is therefore the
State Champion Deodar Cedar.
I've seen a lot of squirrels go up
and down this tree over the years, Parish said. I never stopped to think
that it might be the biggest.
The tree's potential to be a
champion was first noticed by Reggie Talley of Hazen, Ark. Talley, a
retired Monroe County agriculture extension agent and self-described "tree
nut," was driving past the courthouse one day last month and noticed the
"I found what was then the largest Cedrus Deodara in England,
Ark., years ago," Talley said. "This one looked much bigger, so I had the
Forestry Commission come measure it."
Towering 67 feet over the
courthouse lawn, the county's Deodar Cedar boasts a 127-inch circumference
and a 68-foot crown spread. Using these measurements, the Forestry
Commission uses a unique formula to tabulate what it calls a tree's
bigness index. The champion cedar has a bigness index of 211.
Talley would notice a champion tree is no surprise. He has found more than
40 of the state's largest trees since he discovered his first, an olive
tree near Clarendon, in 1998.
"This is just a hobby," Talley said.
"I guess I just have a passion for trees, and appreciate the Lord's
Planted in 1939 by White County Judge Herbert Moody, the
tree has seen its share of storms from its spot on the courthouse
"We've done some work on it here and there," Parish said. "We
had to trim a lot off after the ice storm in 2000, some of it fell off
into the street. The maintenance workers take care of it along with the
rest of the lawn."
With proper care, the tree should continue to
grace the corner of Spruce Street and Arch Street, Talley
"Imagine how old they get in their habitat," Talley said.
"There's no telling how long it can live."
According to the
National Arbor Day Foundation, the Deodar Conifer originates in eastern
Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. Left to grow in the high altitudes of
its native Himalayas, it can reach over 250 feet in height. It was
introduced to Europe in 1822 and the United States nine years later. The
name is derived from the ancient Sanskrit name "devadara," meaning "timber
of the gods."