The experts have
officially agreed: Augusta State University's symbol - the
more than 400-year-old Arsenal Oak - was infected with
a potentially deadly disease.
the moment, though, signs of that disease are no longer
showing on the oak. That has school officials hopeful
for a recovery and beefing up their rescue efforts.
Smith of Augusta walks her family dog past Augusta State
University's Arsenal Oak. The tree, more than 400
years old, was infected with hypoxylon canker.
"We brought in three (arborist) experts, and they have all
now concurred. It did indeed have that disease," said Max
Brown, supervisor for the university's grounds, referring to
the tree fungus called hypoxylon canker.
"It may still be there, but we see no evidence of it now,"
Mr. Brown said. "We hope that will be the end of it. But it is
a tough disease to get rid of."
Hypoxylon canker is a fungus that causes a white rot and
cankering on hardwood trees. It often contributes to the
premature death of trees that have been weakened by drought,
construction damage or other problems.
Named for the old Augusta Arsenal, the Arsenal Oak
is the largest and oldest white oak in Augusta,
according to the university's Web site. It also is the
inspiration for Augusta State's logo.
Officials suspected the oak might have hypoxylon
when six silver-dollar-sized spots were found on the tree a
few months ago. The tree also didn't produce acorns this year.
Since then, workers for Empire Tree and Turf in Augusta
have cut out chunks of the tree where cankers existed and
injected a fungicidal treatment into the tree.
It's too early to tell if the treatment helped, Mr. Brown
said. In the meantime, school officials are trying another
Brown said about 400 gallons of fertilizer and mycorrhizal
fungus will be injected into the soil about 40 feet west of
the tree. Mycorrhizal fungus is found naturally in oaks and is
beneficial to their growth.
monument sits next to the Arsenal Oak. Experts
say it could be months before they are sure the tree is
"We're hoping to stimulate the roots to grow," Mr. Brown
said. "We're also adding water to the tree with a hose."
Mr. Brown said he will continue to monitor the tree daily,
adding that it could be months before a determination could be
made that it no longer has the disease.
Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3904