Vancouver’s historic Old Apple Tree will live on

Since 2009, the city of Vancouver’s Old Apple Tree Research Team has assisted in managing the Old Apple Tree

Same root system, just a new stem. Vancouver’s historic Old Apple Tree will live on.

Following the recommendation of a research team of professionals, one sapling located near the center of the 194-year-old Old Apple Tree will be cultivated to flourish as part of the historical landscape. This sapling will continue to be called the Old Apple Tree, given its genetic makeup.

Vancouver's Old Apple Tree is shown here surrounded by its saplings. Photo courtesy of city of Vancouver
Vancouver’s Old Apple Tree is shown here surrounded by its saplings. Photo courtesy of city of Vancouver

Since 2009, the city’s Old Apple Tree Research Team (OATRT), comprised of professionals from Bartlett Tree Experts, the National Park Service, Joe Beaudoin, Arborscape Tree Care, and Charles Ray, the city’s Urban Forester, have assisted in managing the Old Apple Tree. With the death of the Old Apple Tree earlier this summer, the research team has been working on next steps for assuring the legacy of this historic tree.

The 194-year-old Old Apple Tree had a significant spiral crack in the trunk that had been expanding over the past several years, leading to decay and rot in a large part of the tree trunk. In late June, arborists conducted a thorough evaluation and observed that the cambium layer of the tree, which transports water and nutrients to the canopy, had been disrupted when the tree shifted slightly. Fortunately, the Old Apple Tree Research Team had been planning ahead by nurturing several of the root suckers, which are now small trees growing around the Old Apple Tree.

Bartlett Tree Experts has offered to continue to donate services for the new tree, which will be structured to mimic the Old Apple Tree, in recognition of the historic site. The remaining shell of the 194-year-old tree, about 4 feet to 5 feet tall, will remain for visual interpretation of the tree’s life cycle. Any other portions of the old tree that are removed will be put in the National Park Service Museum collection to be preserved. A wayside interpretive panel for the Old Apple Tree is expected to be installed in the near future. The fence around the tree will remain in place as the root system, saplings and shell are still vulnerable.

The remaining saplings will be transplanted to the National Park Service historic orchard, likely during the fall or winter of 2020-2021. The Old Apple Tree will also live on in offspring planted around the community. Cuttings obtained by arborists have been handed out to the public during the city’s annual Old Apple Tree Festival for decades. Although this year’s annual festival is canceled due to potential COVID-19 considerations, planning for the 2021 Old Apple Tree Festival, celebrated the first Saturday in October, is underway. Visit the city of Vancouver Urban Forestry webpages at www.cityofvancouver.us/urbanforestry for updates and other information.

The public is invited to join in Clark County Historical Museum’s Old Apple Tree Virtual Memorial Program, which will be streamed at 2 p.m. on Sun., Aug.16 via the Clark County Historical Museum’s (CCHM) live Facebook feed. Visit www.facebook.com/cchmuseum.

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