IT’S ALIVE (BUT STRESSED) SAY DISTRICT OFFICIALS
September 22, 2017 -- The towering European copper beech tree, its majestic canopy of maroon foliage providing both shade to generations of students and an elegant bookend to the northern edge of the Sea Cliff School property, despite its sick appearance, is not dead, report school district officials.
A certified arborist has diagnosed the tree’s ailment as “bleeding canker”which has brought on early leaf senescence (loss of foliage), confirmed Schools Superintendent Peter Giarrizzo in response to questions from Northwordnews.
A variety of factors can cause the degenerative condition that manifests itself as sap oozing lesions, and in this case may be the result of a fungus.
According to Cornell University, 40% of European copper beeches in the northeastern United States have the disease.
Despite the condition, the tree, which is estimated to be over 100 years old, “definitely has buds and is likely to bloom next year,” said Dr. Giarrizzo.
According to the arborist, the bleeding canker predates the addition of a retaining wall, patio, and other landscaping features that are a part of an outdoor classroom constructed immediately surrounding the tree last year and that was gifted to the school by the Sea Cliff PCA, but that the work and the installations may have “stressed” the copper beech, said the Superintendent.
Moving forward, he explained that the district would work towards restoring the tree to a healthier condition to arrest its decline.
“We will engage a certified arborist to evaluate the tree twice a year to monitor changes,” he said. “In the meantime, the tree’s root zone system will be treated with an application of fertilizer to encourage new root development and provide nutrients for the existing root structure.”
“We are in the process of exploring a proactive approach and process to assess all of our trees to ensure that they are healthy and address any issues regarding pruning and/or maintenance,” Dr. Giarrizzo continued. “There are many heritage trees across the district that we want to be sure that we take good care of!”