OGDEN — A little more than 100 years ago, the owners of a new white brick bungalow with a welcoming porch planted an English walnut tree in their backyard.
The home and the neighborhood are gone, but the tree is still growing. State officials confirmed recently that it holds the record for the largest English walnut in Utah. Turns out, it’s remarkably old, too.
Utah State University Professor Mike Kuhns, who first noticed the tree earlier this year, took a corer to it last month, but the tree is so large he was only able to collect rings back to 1969.
“My increment corer only went in 16 inches and we would need a core more than twice that long to get to its center,” he said.
Michael Kuhns, Wildland Resources Department Head at Utah State University, found the tree in downtown Ogden that turned out to be the largest English walnut in the state. The tree is located off Park Boulevard and is currently owned by the city of Ogden.
Assuming the tree kept growing at the same rate over the years, Kuhns calculates the tree is 104 years old.
“Very few trees in urban areas make it to 100 years old, and most only live for 15 to 20 years,” he said. “It is not only a tremendous biological and environmental resource because it is large, but it is likely a cultural and historic resource because of its age.”
When the walnut tree was first planted, World War I had just begun. The U.S. Forest Service was less than a decade old.
In the tree’s neighborhood, near the banks of the Ogden River, Becker Brewing and Malting Co. was booming — it was a few years before Prohibition. Just to the south, the American Can building was brand new.
“When you’ve got a tree that’s been around for a long time, stories tend to collect with it,” said Jeran Farley, urban and community forestry coordinator for the Utah Department of Natural Resources. “We as people tend to like things that have history and can tell a story.”
Those old trees have value. Big trees like the English walnut have value, too.
Farley also manages the Big Tree and Heritage Tree registries for the state of Utah. He confirmed the walnut tree in downtown Ogden is the biggest of its species known in the state. It’s 85 feet tall, with a trunk 18 feet and 7 inches in circumference.
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Source:: Deseret News – Utah News