University's symbol, a more-than-400-year-old tree
called the Arsenal Oak, could be headed for the woodpile.
That could happen unless a prescribed treatment for its
"cancer" - a tree fungus called hypoxylon canker - performs a
miracle, according to a tree expert who examined the tree
"Hypoxylon is basically like terminal cancer," said Henry
Frischknecht, owner of Empire Tree and Turf in Augusta. "I'm
praying that this will work."
On Thursday, Mr. Frischknecht and his workers cut five
12-inch-wide chunks from the tree where cankers exist and
injected a new fungicidal treatment into the oak's sap.
Mr. Frischknecht said the university has worked hard
to keep the massive white oak in good shape. Named for
the old Augusta Arsenal, the Arsenal Oak is the
largest and oldest white oak in Augusta, according to the
university's Web site. It also is the inspiration for Augusta
a few weeks ago six silver-dollar-size spots were found on the
tree, he said. The tree also didn't produce acorns this year.
Quattlebaum and his crew injected the 400-year-old tree
with a fungicide in hopes of saving it.
School officials have brought in several arborists to
examine the tree, and two pathologists from Cornell University
also have been consulted, Mr. Frischknecht said.
Steve Brady, a university spokesman, said officials are
awaiting the arborists' opinions before a making decision on
the tree's fate.
"We're going to do whatever we can to possibly help the
tree," he said, adding that cutting the tree down "would be
our last resort. It would be a very sad day for Augusta State
Hypoxylon canker is a fungus that causes a white rot and
cankering on hardwood trees. It often contributes to the
premature death of trees that have been weakened by drought,
construction damage or other problems.
Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3904.