Monday, February 1, 2010

From the turning death into science department: Herbie, the ancient elm tree that stood for over 200 years in Yarmouth, Maine, is being studied by dendrochronologists and dendroclimatologists. Herbie was the tallest elm in New England at 110' in height. Through the care of Yarmouth's 101 year-old tree warden, Frank Knight, Herbie survived 14 bouts of Dutch elm disease, and finally succumbed this year. Now that Herbie lives no more, my friend Pete Lammert of the Maine Forest Service and others are taking slices from the trunk for study of growth rates, which could shed light on Yarmouth's historic climate. Discoveries are already coming in: it now appears that Herbie grew in the shade -- likely in the wild -- for 10 to 20 years before being transplanted to its ultimate location. If this is confirmed, it will mean Herbie lived for 235 to 240 years, having sprouted before the Revolution.

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