Oaks seedlings and clones help fans continue an Auburn tradition

Published: September 17, 2014
Updated: September 29, 2014
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Auburn fans can carry on the tradition of the Toomer's Corner live oaks in their own yards. This fall the Department of Horticulture in the College of Agriculture is selling seedlings and clones of the famed oaks.

"After being poisoned, the oaks would no longer produce acorns," said Gary Keever, a professor of horticulture at Auburn who led the Auburn Oaks remediation effort. "We've had acorns from the trees which were grown and sold, but the demand for more led us to develop clones, or genetically identical trees, as well as seedlings from the original trees."

A School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences project generated sales of 800 oak seedlings, which were sold in a lottery following more than 6,000 requests during the last year of the program. The program ended when the oaks stopped producing acorns and were eventually removed.

Keever and his team were able to propagate more than 2,000 rhizomic shoots from the oaks before their removal and have grown them to 1-3 feet tall.

The shoot cuttings were rooted in a greenhouse, where misters intermittently sprayed the cuttings and maintained a near 100 percent humidity required for them to root. Cuttings were rooted in a peat moss and perlite medium that providing excellent drainage but held sufficient water so the base of the cuttings didn't dry. Once the clones were rooted, they were moved outdoors, repotted and grown in Horticulture's on-campus nursery.

A limited number of larger trees are also available for purchase. In 2007 Keever collected and germinated acorns from the trees, and these offspring trees are now 8-10 feet tall.

The 8-10 feet tall seedlings are $1,500, and the 1-3-ft. tall clones are $125. Each tree comes with a certificate of authenticity, care instructions and a planting guide.

To purchase the oaks, go to https://tpg.auburn.edu/ustores/web/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCTID=2227 or email buyoaks@auburn.edu for more information.

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