Stumpy the cherry blossoms on the cutting board as DC takes down the trees

Stumpy the cherry blossoms on the cutting board as DC takes down the trees

When workers start to rebuild the deteriorating seawall in the summer, more than 100 cherry blossom trees will be chopped down.

The renowned, gnarly old cherry tree known as “Stumpy,” which rose to fame on social media, is going to participate in its final round of selfies at Washington, DC’s annual cherry blossom festival this spring.

Along with more than a hundred other cherry trees on the well-known paths near the Jefferson Memorial in the nation’s capital, Stumpy has been put up for removal. The climate issue is also a factor in this decision.

This summer, when work begins to rebuild the deteriorating barrier surrounding the Tidal Basin—the region surrounding the memorial with the largest number of cherry trees—the trees will be chopped down.

The erosion and increasing sea levels have caused the Potomac River’s waters to often surge over the barriers, thus the repair has been long overdue.

In addition to covering a portion of the pedestrian pathways, the twice-daily high tide floods also frequently submerge a portion of the cherry trees’ roots.

Mike Litterst, a National Park Service spokesperson for the National Mall, estimated that the $133 million project to repair and strengthen the seawall would take around three years to complete.

Litterst stated, “It will undoubtedly enhance the visitor experience, and that’s very important to us.” “But above all, it will help the cherry trees, whose roots are currently being submerged in the brackish water of the Tidal Basin twice a day.”

According to Litterst, trees that were once completely submerged in water cannot be replanted “until we fix the underlying cause of what killed them in the first place.” Though in bad shape, Stumpy is still alive.

Plans call for the removal and mulching of 140 cherry trees, for a total of 300 trees. 277 cherry trees will be planted in their stead after the renovation is finished.

According to Litterst, the mulch will provide the trees that are being cut down with a “good second life” by shielding their roots from foot traffic and gradually decomposing into nutrient-rich soil.

The nation’s capital’s tourism season officially begins with the National Cherry Blossom Festival. This year, 1.5 million visitors are anticipated to see the pink and white blossoms—the highest number since the epidemic.

Stumpy rose to fame on social media in 2020’s pandemic fever fantasy. A fan base, a calendar, and T-shirts have all resulted from its legacy. People have been leaving flowers and bourbon on Stumpy’s last spring, and one Reddit user has threatened to bind themselves to the tree’s trunk in an effort to rescue it.

A portion of the tree’s genetic material will be used by the National Arboretum to generate clones, some of which will eventually be planted again in the Tidal Basin.

One way that climate change has impacted cherry trees is the frequent flooding in the Tidal Basin, where sea levels have risen by almost one foot since the barrier was constructed in the early 1890s. Peak bloom dates are moving earlier in the calendar because to rising global temperatures and milder winters.



Reporting was supplied by The Associated Press.



The timeline for the construction of the Tidal Basin barrier was updated in this page on March 22, 2024. It was really in the early 1890s, not the early 1990s as the article had previously said.

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