Auburn fans asked not to roll Auburn Oaks, encouraged to practice physical distancing

Published: September 23, 2020
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While the Auburn Family looks forward to celebrating the return of football, officials are asking fans not to roll the two Auburn Oaks and nearby 10 descendant trees this season, and they are encouraging mask wearing and physical distancing during gameday celebrations.

University Arborist Alex Hedgepath says that while the two Auburn Oaks planted in 2017 and the 10 descendant oaks in Samford Park showed excellent progress during the 2020 growing season, they still need special care and monitoring to ensure full establishment. Not rolling them this year will allow the trees more time to become more acclimated to their new environment.

Fans are encouraged to celebrate football victories by rolling two large southern magnolia trees and a white oak in front of Biggin Hall near Toomer’s Corner. Rolling trees with toilet paper is an Auburn tradition after athletic wins.

“Although the Auburn Oaks are exhibiting signs of establishment, these oaks are still easily inside of a long transplant recovery phase,” Hedgepath said. “This means that small roots are still growing aggressively to make up for root loss that occurred before and at the time of planting. It is prudent to reduce foot traffic and excess water so that the new roots are not damaged and can establish the trees as soon as possible.”

Although the Auburn Oaks are exhibiting signs that show reduced stress and increased stabilization, both trees are still being monitored closely.

Auburn’s Landscape Services team monitors the trees’ soil moisture through in-ground devices called tensiometers. Each tree has four tensiometers that collect and send data to software used to interpret trends on water availability, which lets Hedgepath know how much water the trees are demanding at any given time.

The 10 descendant trees, planted in 2016 along the walkway in Samford Park, are progressing nicely, Hedgepath said.

“Each tree is different, but most are in good condition and are showing increased resiliency to their new environment. With just five growing seasons in the ground, these live oaks have showed considerable root and shoot growth.”

It is also important not to roll or allow children to climb on the descendant oaks, Hedgepath said.

Auburn officials also are encouraging mask wearing and physical distancing during gameday celebrations.

“We want everyone to enjoy the football atmosphere but to do so with COVID-19 safety precautions in mind,” said Dr. Fred Kam, director of the Auburn University Medical Clinic. “This means to wear a mask and stay six feet apart.”

More information about Auburn’s health and safety measures is available on the A Healthier U website.