The most wondrous products of four billion years of life need help. It’s simple enough, and self-evident, now that the light-beings have pointed it out. Every reasonable person on the planet should be able to see.–The Overstory
In spite of having a number of beautiful photos of Ash trees ready to paint, I can’t help seeking them everywhere I go. As I learn about each new endangered tree, there is the sense of discovering something beautiful just a little too late.
In the case of the Ash tree there are a few avenues open for those interested in saving them.
Pesticides have been developed, but they are expensive, and as with all pesticides can cause indiscriminate harm. Parisitoid wasps have been imported, specially bred, and released in a few areas, but can take years to grow enough population to control the infestation.
The people that I have met on this journey have been so interesting and kind. While in Charlotte, NC, en route to Virginia to photograph the Virginia Round Leaf Birch, there were a few hours to spare, so we decided to visit the Arboretum at UNC Charlotte. I had no idea what a paradise existed just off the train line.
It was just starting to rain as we entered the tree filled sanctuary, and as my glasses have no windshield wipers, we backtracked a bit and entered the greenhouse. Dr. Jeff Gillman, the director of the botanical garden happened to be available.
We had a conversation about the ash trees in the garden, and how they cannot save them all.
It’s critical to understand the magnitude of the problem. There are 8 billion ash trees in the US, with millions already dead in the Northwest, and the ash borers are spreading far too rapidly across the Northeast. There are only a few mitigating solutions being applied, each with their own problems. The need for awareness and action is crucial.
Jeff helped me identify one of the trees I was planning to paint, and at the same time pointed me in the direction of the Torreya Yew, another Critically Endangered tree. There was an absolutely gorgeous Torreya just a few hundred feet away. Since my photos from that drizzly afternoon weren’t spectacular, I will just have to return! Luckily, Charlotte is a great city and I have some wonderful friends to visit while there.
If you are interested in helping to preserve the future of Ash trees, there are efforts underway to gather seed pods for preservation. Below is a pdf detailing how to properly collect seed pods. Thank you for helping.
As a source of inspiration, The Overstory is the most comprehensive and beautifully written book about trees and the people who interact with them that I have ever read.