Few trees were as deeply rooted in Augusta history as an old magnolia that fell during the weekend at Gould’s Corner.
“It was a very rare tree,” said Roy Simkins, an arborist and historian who had been in the process of nominating the tree as a “national champion.”
The magnolia was likely the largest example of its species – Magnolia cordata, or “yellow magnolia” – and was planted in the 1850s by the Berckmans family, whose Fruitland Nurseries property later became Augusta National Golf Club.
As a species, the yellow magnolia is unusual because it is deciduous, shedding its leaves, while most other species are evergreens. It was often labeled as a variety of the more common species, but eventually earned its own species designation, Simkins said.
The tree, off Walton Way at Milledge Road, had been measured at 38 inches in diameter at breast height, 79 feet tall and had an 84-foot spread, he said. The nomination to the conservation group American Forests would have included dimensions.
On Friday, however, after a century and a half, the old tree fell.
“It was as hollow as a gourd,” Simkins said. “We think it somehow developed some basal decay. It was almost a shell, no more strength.”
On Monday, workers sawed its trunk into sections to be removed, although some of the intricate wood was salvaged.