Mulberry Tree Remains A Champion Despite Storm

February 16, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER -- The only consolation for a bad haircut is that eventually it will grow out.

But the giant black mulberry tree on Gist Road is too old to recover from the bad trimming done by an ill-informed tree service in 1974, owner Carol Samios said.

Adding injury to insult, a wind storm last month knocked down twohuge main branches -- each the size of a small tree themselves.

But the tree remains on the 1992 National Register of Big Trees, a list of the largest specimen of each tree in the country. The list is compiled by the American Forestry Association.

The mulberry also is on the list of state champion trees, compiled by the Department of Natural Resources. It has the largest trunk circumference of any tree in the state, said DNR spokeswoman Barbara McLeod.

National and state champion lists use a size formula based on a tree's trunk circumference, height and branch spread, she said.

While the black mulberry is big and old -- it was already there when the house now owned by Nicholas and Carol Samios was built in 1795 -- it is practically a teen-ager compared with some trees in the country.

Maryland's oldesttree is a 450-year-old white oak in Wye Mills, Queen Anne's County, and the oldest in the country is a bristle-cone pine tree in NorthernCalifornia's Inyo National Forest. The pine tree is 4,000 years old.

"That blows my mind," McLeod said.

The Samios' black mulberry tree is surviving, despite the bad trim 18 years ago and the storm Jan. 14. It doesn't bear fruit regularly.

"Every couple of years we'll find a couple (mulberries), sort of like a last hurrah," Carol Samios said.

As of last summer, the Samios' black mulberry measured atrunk circumference of 20 feet, 8 inches; a height of 60 feet; and abranch spread of 78 feet.

Like an aging person, it had grown a bit wider but lost some height. In 1973, it had measured 18 feet, 5 inches around the trunk, 67 feet high and 71 feet at the spread of the branches.

Samios said the tree never has grown back the branch width it had when she and her husband started the process of buying theirhome in 1973. The previous owner, the late Gwendolyn Law, was livingin California and hired a tree service to take care of it.

Late that fall, the tree service cut back the branches on two sides of the tree, where it went all the way from the log-cabin smokehouse to a bell house on the property, and half the length of the rambling main farmhouse.

But while it hasn't grown back those branches, it must have increased its spread in other places, McLeod said.

The tree hasn't been measured since the windstorm took down the large branches, which since have been chopped into logs and stacked at the base of thetree.

"It's all firewood now," Samios said.

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