Katsura Tree Preservation    



The fate of the Katsura tree will be decided by the Church's Vestry.  Please show your support to preserving the tree.  Come to a vigil  in front of Grace Church Monday November 3, 2003 at 6:30 p.m  .while they decide its fate.



The Katsura's current condition:

The tree has large amount of decay in top of central leader with some large rotted areas in the lower region of the same leader.  Likely this leader will have to come out.  Extent to which the rot has extended to the base of any other trunk must be established.  Several dead branches need pruning and the cables attached to the main leader will have to be reattached when the main leader is removed.

The cables are currently well attached and, according to Ed Cotton, arborist: "… it is so securely cabled right now that even if it breaks (and I don’t think it will break because its cabled up so securely) it would hang up, and not hit the ground, not be dangerous."

General Consensus:  Nearly all of the arborists contacted (9) said that the tree could be "saved" (i.e. repaired/restored) and made entirely safe for the public.

Longevity: Katsura trees don't attract many pests and are long lived. Several trees planted in Amherst from seeds of this Katsura about 3 years later (by Mass Agricultural School) are still alive and well. According to Tom Houston, arborist in Shutesbury, the Katsura at Grace "…can live at least 50 more years, with proper care.

Pruning: According to the arborists consulted, the tree would have to be pruned (none said severely, to the point of disfigurement”) and re-cabled.

Support structure:  Several experts mentioned the need for a structural replacement for the rotted central leader that would hold up the branches, which are now cabled to the central leader. With tree foliage, the support would be inconspicuous. Without foliage, the structure would be noticeable, but need not be ugly. A design is being sought to determine appearance and cost.

Testing:  A strength-loss test of the areas with large cavities could be performed to see which branches need to be removed, and if the tree has sufficient strength to maintain itself.  A root flare excavation, using an air spade would expose certain areas of the roots without damaging them and indicate where the support column would be located so as not to damage the roots.

Improving the health of the tree: The use of mycorrhizael inoculations would enhance the beneficial relationship between the root and the mycorrhizael  fungi. 

Costs: Minimal. In order to keep the costs of the preservation effort down, a local structural engineer could help with the design, steel distributors and local welders in the community could contribute the steel and welding service, and local arborists could contribute use of their cherry pickers.

Action: Bill DeVos, internationally known tree surgeon from Vermont, offered to donate his fee to design the support structure.  Ed Cotton from Northampton, offered free pruning of the tree for its lifetime, and Tom Houston has identified volunteers for welding, providing equipment, engineering, and masonry.

If removal is decided: It is necessary to consider also the cost to cut the existing tree (+/-$3000), the cost to plant another Katsura (cost would depend on size planted), and, if another were to be planted in the same location, the cost to grind the stump.


Next Step:

Support the Katsura 
Preservation effort.


Grace Episcopal Church
On the Town Common
14 Boltwood Avenue
Amherst Massachusetts  

Phone: (413) 256-6754  
Fax: (413) 256-3518