One of the best traditions in all of college football is the rolling of the oak trees on Toomer’s Corner after an Auburn victory.
Tragedy struck after the close win over LSU when a man set one of the trees on fire. Dr. Gary Keever, a horticulture professor at Auburn, was quoted to have said he expects the tree to die according to a letter from Interim Executive Director of Public Safety and Security Chance Corbett.
Keever may have been misrepresented, as he is now saying their may be hope for the tree:
“The regrowth appears random and probably reflects branches that weren’t exposed to as intense heat as others,” Keever said. “As I stated from my first interviews following the fire, I don’t expect the tree to die. However, there is significant dead wood in the canopy, including most, if not all, shoot tips and one sizable branch is showing no new growth.”
The Auburn police arrested Jochen Wiest and charged him with desecration of a venerable object for burning the tree.
“While the new foliage is encouraging, the timing gives cause for concern,” Keever said. “Immature foliage is much more susceptible to cold damage than mature foliage that has gone through the natural hardening process that occurs with temperate-zone trees in the fall. We will continue to monitor the condition of the tree, but also begin plans to replace the tree should its condition worsen. At this time, there are no plans to replace the tree.”
It’s the second tree related incident in the last few years after Alabama fan Harvey Updyke poisoned the oaks in 2010. The school replaced the trees in 2015. Fans have been asked not to roll the burned tree for the rest of the year.