Last summer, Auburn officials said they wouldn’t be cut down until they were dead. But if you’ve walked past them this week, you may have noticed: The Toomer’s Oaks are actually sprouting new growth, just like they were this time last year. That’s because they’re alive. And despite what was termed their “aesthetic death” and a “no chance for survival” prognosis, they’ll technically stay alive, even after they’re cut down 20 days from now. Or at least part of them will. The sprawling roots underneath the planters and the rhizomic shoots peeping through the mulch that will cover the stumps will keep doing what plants do until they’re dug up after the football season and turned into souvenirs (and an amazing bowl.)
“They’re still part of the tree,” says Auburn horticulture professor Dr. Gary Keever, a member of Auburn’s Tree Preservation committee.
“If we didn’t take the (Toomer’s Oaks) out, maybe they’d die this summer. Maybe we could roll them one more season, though we’d maybe be rolling dead trees,” Keever says. “Or maybe they’d hang on for another year. But what are we gaining by doing that?”
That’s the question Keever and Co. have wrestled with for more than two years. However, for some Auburn fans, when it comes to the oaks, utility simply doesn’t enter into it.
“People have said to, ‘oh, there’s new growth on them, I think we need to keep them up there.’ But do they add anything? I don’t think they do in their current condition,” Keever says. “I think they’re way past the point of contributing something positive in this space (Toomer’s Corner).”
Related: Why were live oaks planted at Toomer’s Corner? Old letters may provide clues
More on the the Toomer’s Oaks: Auburn grad attorney had no qualms defending Updyke / Toomer’s Oaks souvenirs will be branded ‘Auburn Oaks’ / Woodturned item made from Toomer’s Oaks will be on permanent display in Auburn art museum / Toomer’s Corner rollings didn’t start with Punt, Bama, Punt, says History / Did Auburn students celebrate Bear Bryant’s death by rolling Toomer’s Corner?
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Ed Lewis Fy'79 says
AU Forestry should crop some of the new growth, root it, grow it, and sell Baby Toomers oaks before all of the new growth dies back. Who knows, maybe they can one day grow one of them back large enough to continue sprouting acorns from one of the rooted progeny??