It pre-dates electricity in our homes and cars on our roads. It even came before the days of the civil war. Thanks to a modern day treatment, however, a tree that is estimated to be at least 175 years old, and certainly wide enough to be the new state champion green ash tree, should stand for years to come. Located in the rolling farmland of southern Spencer County, the behemoth of an ash tree is protected from the destructive, invasive emerald ash borer.
With a circumference of nearly 20 feet and a height likely exceeding 90 feet, the giant green ash tree on the front lawn of Monica Daming’s home is truly a sight to behold.
“The first thing [Trugreen] did was take a picture [with their 6’3” employee] next to it,” Daming said. “Then, I knew they thought it was pretty big.”
For Tony Rainey, the service manager for Trugreen’s Evansville location, it was an honor. Rainey, who has treated hundreds of ash trees throughout his career, was awestruck.
“This is by far the biggest ash tree I have ever seen,” Rainey said.
Trugreen officials estimate the tree to be at least 175 years old, possibly as old as 200 years, which would make it about as old as the State of Indiana.
The size of the tree could also make it worthy of a special honor: the state champion green ash tree.
“Through the lifetime and span of this tree, everything that it’s been able to withstand and still be here, it’s amazing,” Rainey said.
According to the 2010 Indiana Big Tree Register, the state champion ash tree at the time was located in Terre Haute with a circumference of 227 inches.
The tree in Daming’s front yard has a rough circumference of 237 inches. The exact height is not known but Trugreen estimates it to be taller than 90 feet.
The former state champion ash tree in Terre Haute has since been cut down, making Daming’s tree an easy shoe-in as the new state champion. In order to crowned state champion, a tree must be nominated by an arborist before a panel of experts makes the determination.
On Tuesday morning, however, Trugreen employees weren’t at Daming’s house to marvel at the massive ash tree. They were there to do a job.
Armed with bicycle pumps, a power drill and what looked like tubes for an IV in a hospital room, the team went to work. Systematically going around the base of the tree, the team drills holes into the trunk before pumping a solution into the vascular system of the tree. The solution is specifically designed to protect the tree against the emerald ash borer, a destructive, penny-sized insect that has killed hundreds of thousands of ash trees across the country.
Some have estimated that more than 60% of Michigan’s ash trees were killed by the emerald ash borer. Large cities, including Chicago, have also seen their ash tree populations seemingly wiped out.
“By far, this is the best method that we’ve been able to come up with to treat the ash trees,” Rainey said. The treatment is seen as the only option in preventing the ash tree’s death, Rainey said.
The emerald ash borer is so destructive and pervasive, Rainey said, that it’s not a matter of if the tree is going to die, it’s a matter of when. The cost of the treatment depends on the size of the tree.
With Daming’s prized ash tree now protected for at least three years, there’s hope that it will continue to stand watch for decades to come. Perhaps, the tree will stand long enough so that her kid’s kids will be able to enjoy it, too.