Professor Honored for Basking Ridge White Oak Tree Legacy Project

Credits: Jim Lowney/County of Union)
Local & state officials, Lydia Kerrick and daughters, Kaylin, 10, & Ashlee, 6; the Acorn Project from student donations funded the tree drawing by Cody the Creative. Credits: By Linda Sadlouskos

UNION COUNTY, NJ - Union County Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen and Freeholders Bette Jane Kowalski and Alexander Mirabella present Dr. Thomas Ombrello, Ph.D with a resolution congratulating and commending him for his work to continue the legacy of the Basking Ridge White Oak Tree.

The white oak had been located on the property of the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church in downtown Basking Ridge, until the 600-year-old tree was determined to have ended its life and was removed in late April.

Although the tree was noticeably missing when the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church held a parade on Saturday celebrating the church's 300th anniversary, it was mentioned several times.

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Mayor Carolyn Gaziano noted that the first version of the church - a log cabin - was planted next to the tree that was already 300 years old. The tree was lauded and recalled for its sense of stability and wonder at the people and events, both famous and routine, that had taken place beneath its branches.

Dr. Ombrello collected seeds or cutting from noteworthy historic trees

A Senior Professor of Biology at Union County College, Dr. Ombrello began the historic tree project at the college in 1995, collecting seeds or cuttings of noteworthy historic trees around the New Jersey. 

As part of that project, he collected acorns from the historic Basking Ridge White Oak Tree on the grounds of the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church as its life came to an end after 600 years. It is believed to have been one of the oldest White Oak trees in America.

On the college’s Cranford campus, Dr. Ombrello of grew progeny of the historic tree.

Union County College recently donated the 16-year-old offspring of the deceased Basking Ridge White Oak Tree. It was transplanted from the college to the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church in April.

The presentation was joined by Union County College President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin.


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