Emotional End for 100-Foot-Tall 'Guardian' Maple

New Hampshire sugar maple said to be one of the largest in US is taken down due to safety concerns
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 6, 2021 9:25 AM CDT
Home's 240-Year-Old 'Guardian' Is Felled
Micum Davis stands on a boom lift while working to cut down a sugar maple tree in Kensington, NH, on Monday.   (AP Photo/Michael Casey)

A sugar maple tree that has watched over a New Hampshire home for more than 200 years and was one of the largest of its kind in the US is coming down because of safety concerns. As a small crowd looked on Monday, arborist Micum Davis started trimming the crown of the tree in Kensington with the goal of taking it apart by the end of the day. Given the tree has a crown stretching 100 feet across and a diameter of more than 7 feet, and that it stands 100 feet tall, the job required a crane to haul away branches as Davis cut them off with a chainsaw. It's considered the second largest sugar maple, after one in Virginia, Rose Tileston, of American Forests' Champion Trees program, tells the AP. Davis estimates the tree, one of two on the property planted at the same time, was at least 240 years old. They're known as wedding trees because they were planted on each side of the home's doorway, a sign it may have been a gift to newlyweds. The other maple remains.

The tree has been recognized by the New Hampshire Big Tree Program and appears in the National Register of Champion Trees. "It's been the guardian of us," says Janet Buxton, whose family has owned property where the tree stands since 1954. "We grew up with it. We're all sad to see it go, but we have thoroughly enjoyed it for the 67 years we have been here." The maple being cut down has survived plenty of storms over the years and provided a place for birds and even a recent owl family. But a bout of recent storms with strong winds proved too much. Cracks formed in the trunk, and it became clear the tree had become a safety hazard, with the potential for branches to fall onto the house. There was also widespread rot in the tree and Buxton began to hear the tree creaking. "She's just at the end of her life," she says. "She is finally being euthanized. It's unsafe, and it's not fair to her to let her stand out there and not be as beautiful as she always has been. I'm sad to see her go."

(More maple trees stories.)

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