Texas Tree Trails

Texas Tree Trails
A  Geographic Guide To Texas' Significant Trees

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Our Mission is to find and catalog each of these treasures in order to preserve their integrity for future generations - before they all disappear.
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The Texas Tree Trails organization is a cooperative effort of the Texas Forest Service, the Texas Historic Tree Coalition, the Trinity Blacklands Urban Forestry Council and the Cross Timbers Urban Forestry Council, among others.

  City's Biggest Trees Singled Out

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 yards.

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 specimens.

"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.

Before cemetery 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.

The 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, www.blacklandsufc.org.

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 Service.

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 list.

"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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