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July 4th, 2012

New York’s oldest butternut tree gets clean bill of health

POUGHKEEPSIE - New York’s oldest butternut tree, The Forbus Butternut Tree in Poughkeepsie, underwent a summer trim and inspection and received a good a bill of health. SavATree arborists and tree service experts, who routinely donate their time and effort to help the famous Forbus Butternut Tree, recently inspected and pruned the nearly 175-year-old state champion and said she appeared to be in good condition. 

“The Department of Environmental Conservation tells us this tree has been around since the days of the Louisiana Purchase,” Vice President of the Forbus Butternut Association, Nancy Cozean, said. “We want to make sure she stays healthy for many more years and SavATree has been very supportive of our efforts.”

The massive Butternut, or White Walnut, has nearly a 16 foot girth and is the largest of its species in New York State. The historic tree  was made famous when caring residents around the Grey Street and Forbus Avenue neighborhood stepped up and rallied against private developers who were about to chop it down, along with other neighboring trees. 

The neighborhood organization became a not for profit 501(c) 3 to save the tree and national historic property from development for good in 2001. The tree is now a landmark and the property was designated as a park by the state for all to enjoy.

SavATree experts recently scaled the nearly 80 feet high butternut to prune dead limbs and restore  cables.

“We needed to lighten up the heavy exterior limbs of the tree to reduce its weight load,” Operations Manager, Scott McMorrow said. “We also inspected and replaced cables to ensure the limbs are growing and supported properly to allow for movement.”

McMorrow noted that with older trees like the Forbus Butternut, you must be cautious in pruning and not remove too much live tissue.

“For these older trees you only want to remove about 10% of the live tissue of the tree’s canopy to allow for air circulation for the tree,” he said. “That helps reduce disease, and the amount of heavy mass that can break during high winds and heavy snow.”

SavATree also regularly feeds the tree with ArborKelp to promote root growth and heighten stress tolerance.

“I am very impressed with SavATree, and their efforts exceed my expectations,” said President of the Forbus Butternut Association, Gary Privratsky. “They have been good guardians of this tree, watching over it since 2003, and FBA is very grateful.”

To learn more about SavATree, visit  To learn more about the Forbus Butternut Association, visit,

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