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Collapsed tree yields surprise in Bienville Square

After the top part of a live oak collapsed in Bienville Square recently, crews removing the tree got a surprise: It was filled with concrete.

The City of Mobile explained in a statement:

“Unfortunately, a large portion of a live oak tree in Bienville Square collapsed just before 5:30 p.m. on Friday, August 18. The City of Mobile’s Urban Forester responded shortly after it was reported and determined the tree failed due to natural circumstances, though a specific cause hasn’t been identified. Unfortunately, the tree had to be removed because there was no canopy left to sustain it.

Interestingly, the collapse of the upper canopy of the tree revealed that it was filled with concrete and likely has been for decades. Years ago, filling hollow tree cavities with concrete, bricks, or mortar was a common practice, similar to how dentists use fillings to fill cavities in decaying teeth. Over the years, it was discovered that aggressive decay removal can actually interfere with trees’ natural defenses and their ability to compartmentalize wounds. As a result, the practice of filling in tree cavities has been largely abandoned by arborists.”

The city has begun extensive renovations in the park, which will require it to be closed to the public for several months.

The $3.2 million project will make improvements throughout the interior of the park, including upgraded lighting, walkways, bluestone pavers, landscaping, and the addition of a seat wall. It will also include the installation of Ketchum Fountain, which has recently been restored and upgraded.

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