Horticulturist seeks help locating potential specimens for list
07:16 PM CDT on Wednesday, July 7, 2004
By STEPHANIE SANDOVAL / The Dallas Morning News
Susan Henson is on a
quest to find overlooked treasures in Grand Prairie's fields and
She's not looking for
discarded money or lost belongings. Her hunt is for trees – the ones
with wide trunks and branches that reach higher and farther than most
"People think I'm
crazy," she said. "I'll go up and knock on their door and say, 'Hi.
I'm Susan Henson, horticulturist for the city of Grand Prairie. Can I
measure your tree?' "
She's asking for help in
finding those trees so they can be added to the Texas Tree Trails'
Champion Trees of DFW list.
She thought the city had
found a winner in a mesquite tree on the site of the new Grand Prairie
Memorial Gardens and Mausoleum. The towering trunk stands about 70
feet tall, unusual for a shrub or small tree that typically grows no
higher than 30 feet.
But regional urban
forester Matt Grubisich said that although the tree towers nearly 25
feet above the regional champion, located in Fort Worth's Will Rogers
complex, it didn't measure up elsewhere.
construction started, the mesquite stood in a heavily wooded lot.
"So it was forced to
grow upwards, becoming a much taller tree than you would expect to
see," Mr. Grubisich said. "But it was pretty narrow, and the
circumference was smaller than our current champ," which boasts a
circumference of more than 12 feet.
Champion trees are
ranked by an index number that takes into account the height,
circumference and the crown spread.
list of champion
trees is on the Texas Tree Trails Web site, www.texastreetrails.org,
or on the Trinity Blacklands Urban Forestry Council's Web site,
The Texas Tree Trails
program, developed by members of the Dallas Historic Tree Coalition to
address issues of tree removal for development, now includes the
Trinity Blacklands Urban Forestry Council and the Texas Forest
The group is striving to
locate, measure and photograph all significant trees in the
Dallas-Fort Worth area to showcase their importance as botanical,
historical and cultural treasures.
"With development the
way it is, and urban sprawl, we're losing a lot of these trees," Mr.
Grubisich said. "We want to find a way to promote these trees and
preserve them for the long run."
The tall crape myrtle
standing outside Cannon's Florist and Gifts in Grand Prairie stands
roughly 30 feet tall, about 10 feet higher than the standard specimen.
"It's the biggest one
I've ever seen," shop owner and florist Betty Cannon said.
It's the tallest of
three crape myrtles planted in a line on the property before she
bought the property 26 years ago.
But Ms. Henson said that
in this case as well, the Grand Prairie tree won't measure up to the
area's champion tree because of its width.
The region champion
tree, located in Dallas, stands 36 feet tall and has a circumference
of 39 inches and a crown spread of 27 feet.
So far, no Grand Prairie
trees have made the champion tree list.
Still, Ms. Henson is hopeful.
She soon will undergo
training so that she can properly measure trees herself, rather than
call in an urban forester to see if local trees are eligible for the
"A lot of them may be
stuck off in people's back yards. Or they have a piece of property
that's four or five acres, and out back they've got an old pecan tree
or a mesquite tree," she said. "Some of them in our older
neighborhoods may be sitting right in the front yard."
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