AUBURN, Alabama — An analysis of Toomer's Oaks has revealed the trees were as old as 85 years when they were removed last month after being poisoned by a University of Alabama fan.
Auburn University horticulturist Gary Keever and Brian Via, an associate professor in AU's School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, made the determination last week after counting the tree's growth rings, the Opelika-Auburn News reported Thursday (http://bit.ly/11VQget ).
The trees were removed April 23 when efforts failed to rehabilitate them after being poisoned by a University of Alabama fan during Auburn's 2010 run to the BCS football championship.
The cross-section of the wood from the College Street oak also bore a scar the tree sustained after being struck by a drunk driver in the 1990s.
"There's a story to tell by looking at the wood of signs of earlier injury and how the trees responded," Keever said. "The trees don't heal but they do compartmentalize, they do block off injury."
Keever said the wood has been taken to a location where it is irrigated to keep it from drying out while a use is determined. Meanwhile, items made from wood collected from earlier pruning are being sold to university-licensed manufacturers, with royalties funding scholarships.
Keever said his hope is that a cross-section of wood treated with penetrating oil will be displayed at a location on campus and be used as a timeline to chronicle significant events in Auburn's history.
"I think a lot of people would find that of interest," Keever said.
Information from: Opelika-Auburn News, http://www.oanow.com/