Legacy Trees Carry on Forest Genes

(longer version with photos at http://www.champlainoaks.com/2017/09/legacy-trees-carry-on-forest-genes/)

Discovering the family story DNA can tell reminds us of just how diverse genetic roots can be in a human life. Farmers know that the genetic variations within wheat, corn, millets and other food plants hold the key to disease resistance and future food security.

The same value comes from keeping forest genes going. The genes of the bur oaks honoured in Champlain Park on National Tree Day are an unbroken genetic code from the end of the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago. Over multiple generations, the cycle of acorn to mature tree has repeated itself in our neighbourhood over and over again. Along the way, the offspring adapted to the thin soils, dry spells and periodic flooding of the Ottawa River shoreline between Chaudière Falls and Des Chênes Rapids. More recently, they adapted to life in the city.

It is partly for this reason that Forests Ontario honoured the “Champlain Oaks” as heritage trees. It is also why we collect, nurture and replant the acorns of the elders of the local community of bur oaks. Since 2012, the Champlain Oaks Project has cooperated with St. George Elementary School to plant “Legacy Trees” grown from acorns dropped to the ground. Various residents of Champlain Park host the oldest trees on their properties. For their stories, follow this link to “The Champlain Oaks Project“.

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