Green

Cranford Says Goodbye to 'Son' of Historic Basking Ridge Oak Tree

eb07e04f8fb25c7a7944_FullSizeRender_2.jpg
The "son" of the Basking Ridge Oak Tree will be transported to the Presbyterian Church later today Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
90c6e924d1f899638ed6_FullSizeRender.jpg
Students, speakers and faculty pose in front of the oak tree Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
9f094eaf0bd563091092_IMG_6791.JPG
Dr. Thomas M. Ombrello speaking in front of the tree Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
97c177d5afa5c0cf238b_IMG_6769.JPG
School president Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
eeca330c3694a5b53764_IMG_6759.JPG
The "son" of the Basking Ridge Oak Tree in its entirety Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
eb07e04f8fb25c7a7944_FullSizeRender_2.jpg

CRANFORD, NJ - Union County College said goodbye to the “son” of the Basking Ridge oak tree in a sunny, heartfelt ceremony held on campus Tuesday morning.

The Basking Ridge oak tree, believed to be one of the oldest trees in North America, is estimated to be at least 600 years old, with a claim that George Washington sat under its wide branches, according to Nicole Torella, the manager of Publications and Communications at Union County College. It resides at the Presbyterian Church of Basking Ridge, and was determined to be dead last year. The famous tree will be removed from the church on Monday, April 24.

“It is the most majestic tree in the entire state,” Dr. Thomas M. Ombrello, a biology professor at UCC, said.

Sign Up for E-News

In 1995, Ombrello decided to collect acorns from the grand tree in the hopes of creating a sapling that he could plant in his arbor, the Union County College Historic Tree grove. The grove, started by Ombrello, features the offspring of trees from Civil War battlefields and homes of historic figures that include Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Wright brothers and Martin Luther King.

“I wanted to collect offspring from trees that are important in U.S. history,” Ombrello said.

The oak tree didn’t significantly shed acorns until 2001, and when it did, Ombrello and a student collected two five-gallon buckets of acorns and tended to them in Ombrello’s greenhouse. The acorn that created the strongest, fastest sapling was planted in the tree grove, and has prospered there until today, when it will be transported to the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church to rest in a spot near its predecessor.

“It’s an important tree for us, but it’s way more important to the church,” Ombrello said. “They’re going to honor the tree and continue the legacy of the original one.”

The tree removal ceremony featured speakers honoring the original tree, including Victor M. Richel, chairman of the Board of Trustees at UCC, Bruce H. Bergen, chair of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Bill Emmitt, co-chair of the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church Tree Committee, Bruce McArthur, the Bernards Township Administrator, and Ombrello. The ceremony was introduced and hosted by Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin, president of the college.

“Christopher Colombus was doing his thing when the tree was a sapling,” Richel said of the original oak tree. “It’s hard to believe. It’s hard to believe all the history of this great country has taken place while this tree has grown.”

In his speech, Ombrello revealed that he has another sapling from the original tree in his nursery, which he intends to nurture and plant in the place of its sibling within the next two years.

“It was a great ceremony,” said Pablo Benavides, president of UCC’s student government association. “I’m glad that so many faculty and staff members attended and that I got to be here for this.”

According to Ombrello, it’s possible for the second-generation tree to last as long and grow as wide as its parent.

“It’s certainly possible,” Ombrello said, when asked if the original oak tree could become a grandparent. “But typically, that will be decades away. Oak trees don’t reproduce early in life.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Cranford

Three School Buses Involved in Crash at Clark's ALJ High School

June 21, 2018

CLARK, NJ — Three buses collided in the Arthur L. Johnson High School parking lot around noon on Thursday in a chain-reaction crash. 

Students were on board at the time, according to Police Chief Pedro Matos. One driver and two students had minor injuries, Matos said.   

According to a Honeywell alert issued by the Clark Public School District, ...

Cranford High Senior Prom

June 16, 2018

CRANFORD - Cranford High School held its Senior Prom on Friday at the Birchwood Manor in Whippany. Check out the photos our readers submitted. 

Spring Art Show Displays Students' Creativity

CRANFORD - The Cranford High School Spring Art Show was held at the Cranford Public Library, on Tuesday. 

From 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., artwork from classes such as crafts, graphic design, photography, and drawing was on display for the public to promote the creative and unique projects done by students throughout the school year. 

Senior Awards Recipients

CRANFORD - On Thursday, June 7th, Cranford High School held its annual Senior Awards Ceremony. Here is a full list of the awards and winners. 

 

Cranford High School Award for Outstanding Achievement

Top 5% of the Class of 2018

Recipient: Jack Callan, Alannah Clarke, Meg Cui, Caroline Kelly, Julia Kelly, Nicholas Macchi, Katherine Ruane, Layla Serna, Katherine Stochel, ...

Sports Betting Is Off And Running in New Jersey

June 14, 2018

OCEANPORT, NJ — Governor Phil Murphy officially ushered in sports betting in New Jersey when he made the initial wager at Monmouth Park  on June 14.

Governor Murphy, an avid soccer fan who has called ESPN’s “Sportscenter” his favorite show, placed the first bet  — $20 on Germany to win the World Cup. He also bet $20 on the N.J. Devils to ...

Reminder: Eligible Seniors Can Receive $25 in Free Vouchers for Farmer’s Markets, Starting June 25

June 21, 2018

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders reminds income-eligible senior residents age 60 and over that they can apply for a total of $25 in free vouchers to purchase fresh produce. The vouchers may be used only at Farmer’s Markets in Union County that display a yellow and black WIC sign.

“Farmer’s Markets are a feature of community life throughout Union County in the ...

Healthy U Spring Symposium Marks 10 Years of Community Impact

WESTFIELD, NJ — More than 100 Healthy U champions and partners from YMCAs and schools from all over the state gathered at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on May 18 to celebrate 10 years of community impact. Healthy U was also formally presented with the 2017 CATCH® Award for Excellence in State Health. 

CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) is the ...

Summer Water Safety Tips

Summer is a great time for parents to ensure their children are equipped with essential water safety skills. The Westfield Area YMCA offers weekly swim lessons all summer long and in Monday-Thursday weekly sessions.

Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 5-14. Remember these tips to ensure the water is an enjoyable and safe place to ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, June 23, 9:00 AM

Between Park Street and Washington Street, Westfield

Walking Tour: What Makes a Great House and ...

Home & Garden

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 9, 2018

Dear Editor:

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by ...