Posted by: atowhee | June 11, 2022


Here in Salem our city council recently approved housing development on a plot of 29 acres which is a large chunk of open space inside the city limits. This Meyers Farm acerage happens to include over a dozen acres of mature oak forest, a formerly dominant habitat in the Willamette. Oak forest is estimated to be now a remnant at less than 5% of what would have been here two centuries ago when Native Americans still populated the land. The developers have an approved street and construction plan for over 100 homes and say they nwill preserve most of the oaks. I’ve seen this before.

We lived across a narrow gravel lane from a neighbor’s century-old home in Ashland. Huge, mature oaks stood near the home, and were older than the house. The old lady died, the heirs sold and the new owners proceeded to build a large glass and wood monument to their own arrogance and self-pride. Their licensed landscape designer said they would not cut down the oaks. The new home had a larger footprint than the gone one. A much deeper basement was dug, lines and pipes were laid in trenches. Two of the three old oaks died. Root systems long in place were destroyed. We now know that often groups of oak trunks can be shoots off a single root system, a single individual tree. The root is where the tree’s life is determined and nourished. Often a fallen trunk can be ignored as new shoots come from the surviving root system. It doesn’t require a chain saw to kill oaks.

Was there graft involved? After turning down the development in their first vote, the Salem City Council returned a few weeks later to approve. Did the developer meet demands, offer more, better meet the city code? There is no way of knowing. Now a legal battle inside the Meyer family awaits a day in court. An untrusted famuily trust had sold the development rights without assent from many family members who’ve sued to save the open space. And a community group has appealed the construction approval to a state land use board.

Time to move from realty to real tree graft,


In our nearby city park are a dozen mature walnuts from the days that land was an orchard. When the nuts ripen in the fall crows and squirrels are ecstatic and busy and gathering and caching.

One of the walnut trees has one limb grafted onto an original limb. This grafted limb has pale bark and more rounded leaves. Apparently there are two species of walnut limb on this particular tree. This is not seen on any of the other suviving walnuts.

The host tree’s leaves are on the left, grafted on the right:

Here’s the point of grafting. Host tree on lower left and the nright-hand trunk, grafted limb with much paler bark:

Click here for quick primer on walnut species (over 2 dozen).

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