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'Remarkable trees' have roots in region AREA STANDOUTS WANT TO GO?
Several area trees are among standouts included in a new book, "Remarkable Trees of Virginia"

 Southern catalpa (above) in Stafford's Chatham area and a white oak at UMW's Brompton passed the 'wow' test for inclusion in 'Remarkable Trees in Virginia.'
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Date published: 9/15/2008

By LAURA MOYER

It was a daunting task.

With 12 billion trees in Virginia to choose from, Nancy Ross Hugo, Jeff Kirwan and Robert Llewellyn had to pick just 120 that they considered the most remarkable in the state.

They got help from their fellow Virginia tree lovers, who over the past four years have nominated more than 1,000 trees for the honor.

Kirwan, a professor of forestry at Virginia Tech, visited most of the nominated trees and some he already knew about.

Kirwan, writer Hugo and photographer Llewel-lyn chose trees remarkable for their size and history. They picked some just for their looks. They included trees associated with founding fathers, and trees in people's backyards.

There are oaks and walnuts and hackberries, pines and cedars and catalpas. There's even a dead tree--the standing snag of a blight-killed American chestnut at Caledon Natural Area in King George County.

The chosen trees have one common characteristic, Kirwan said. "It had to be a tree that somebody would turn the corner, see, and go, 'Wow!'"

The result is "Remarkable Trees of Virginia," a 216-page book of narrative and photographs published in August by the University of Virginia Press.

The Fredericksburg area is well-represented, with examples from Fredericksburg and the counties of Caroline, King George, Orange, Stafford and Westmoreland.

Kirwan will visit the area later this month to talk about the process--and also about the whys.

Kirwan said Hugo, who lives in Hanover County, conceived the book. She envisioned it as a way to draw attention to trees remarkable not just for their size, but for their cultural significance and their importance in people's lives.

They wanted to document those spectacular trees in a lasting record.

And they also hoped to capture the imagination of children--many of whom enthusiastically participated in the nominating process.

"One of our goals is to engage a new generation of Virginians in the care and appreciation of trees," Kirwan said.

Though only 120 of the trees got the full treatment--stories and photographs in the books--another 108 are mentioned. And the nominations can all be seen on the project's Web site, www.cnr .vt.edu/4h/remarkabletree.

Oaks got the most nominations by far, Kirwan said. Virginia has more oaks than you can shake a stick at, and Virginians love them.

"I can tell you," Kirwan said, "that people's favorite tree is the white oak."

Laura Moyer: 540/374-5417
Email: lmoyer@freelancestar.com


CAROLINE COUNTY: Grove of loblolly pines, private property

FREDERICKSBURG: White oak, Brompton KING GEORGE COUNTY: American chestnut (standing snag) and beech, both at Caledon Natural Area ORANGE COUNTY: Black walnut and deodar cedar, both at James Madison's Montpelier; red maple, roadside near Barboursville STAFFORD COUNTY: Southern catalpa trees, Chatham WESTMORELAND COUNTY: Hackberry, Eastern red cedars, both at George Washington Birthplace National Monument; grove of tulip poplars, Nomini Hall; cherry bark oak, private property in Colonial Beach; black walnut, private property

Jeff Kirwan will speak about the Remarkable Tree Project in Fredericksburg and the Northern Neck in appearances later this month.

THEY INCLUDE:

Historic Kenmore, Fredericksburg

Sept. 23, 10 a.m.; talk followed by tree tour.

George Washington Birthplace National Monument, Westmoreland County Sept. 24, 9 a.m.; talk followed by tree tour.

Central Rappahannock Regional Library, Newton Branch, Hague

Sept. 24, 6 p.m.