Old Garry oaks fall to fungus

Two large trees removed from boulevard on Windsor Road

Arborist Trent Skaar, from Bartlett Tree Experts, cuts through a branch on an oak tree in the 2300 block of Windsor Road on Thursday.

Arborist Trent Skaar, from Bartlett Tree Experts, cuts through a branch on an oak tree in the 2300 block of Windsor Road on Thursday.

For almost two centuries, they stood rooted next to what is now Windsor Road.

Time and damage, caused by installing pipes underground and the construction of the road, took their toll and as a result, two large Garry oaks met their end.

“This summer, both had very large fruiting bodies show up on their sides,” municipal arborist Chris Paul said.

“Fruiting bodies” are similar to mushrooms: the incarnations of fungus growing in the trees. The pair in the 2300-block of Windsor Road were afflicted with Inonotus dryadeus.

“That fungus is a pretty aggressive root rot that often doesn’t even show itself. Usually, we don’t see it until the tree falls over,” Paul said. When municipal staff saw the fungus growing on the trees’ trunks, he said, “we exposed the root collar all the way around the trees and we found the roots, many of them were quite decayed.”

Oak Bay contracted an independent arborist to examine the trees and on Thursday, a private company was contracted to remove them.

Workers hitched the trees, one at a time, to cranes then sawed through the trunk. Soon, the stumps will be ground down 20 centimetres to break them up.

The two felled oaks will be cut up for the Vancouver Island Woodworkers Guild, who often form larger pieces into furniture and smaller ones into bowls and ornaments.

Paul said municipal staff will replant, likely Garry oaks, in the space left bare by the rotted trees.

ecardone@vicnews.com

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