Not All Volunteers Pass Muster

Friday, September 6, 2013

We so truly value our Fairchild volunteers. They make day-to-day operations possible, not to mention our special events like Mango Festival and many others. I’ve met so many dedicated volunteers in the three+ months I’ve worked here, and they are all really friendly, and deeply knowledgeable in ways that can only come from devotion to a labor of love.

Some kinds of volunteers however cannot remain in the Garden. This Triplaris cumingiana, sometimes called an ant tree, grew up on its own, and therefore is considered a “volunteer” addition to the Garden. Just because it’s a volunteer doesn’t mean it is automatically removed; however this one was in the wrong place and had to be felled. The ant tree is so called because it’s known to be inhabited by Pseudomyrmex triplarinus, a venomous ant, none of which I saw on this particular tree, thankfully.

Tree cutting
Triplaris cumingiana coming down—click for full size.

Fairchild Arborist Bob Brennan expertly and safely removed this towering tree and allowed me to watch. He began by threading a rope through its crown to help guide its fall. Then, Bob cut a wedge from the base of the tree and the rest is history. Living Collection Manager Jason Lopez assisted and held the guide rope—an unnerving task from my point of view.

bob and jason
Fairchild Arborist Bob Brennan and Living Collection
Manager Jason Lopez

It fell exactly where the guys wanted it to (or so it appeared to me!) in about two seconds with a “CRASH.” I’m watching for interesting fungi to appear on its stump, which remains near the outdoor seating area across from Cycad Circle. This is a sample of some of the maintenance that has to be carried out daily throughout Fairchild’s 83 acres—a whole lot of yardwork!

Some more information on the symbiosis between these ants and trees can be found at:

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