Toomer’s oaks are not forever lost. One of Auburn’s greatest icons and traditions can still be continued right in your own backyard.
Dr. Gary Keever, an Auburn University researcher and professor of horticulture has worked many years to propagate healthy Auburn Oak clones. In 2013, before the trees were cut down, Keever collected
more than 2,000 rhizomatic shoots directly from the roots of the trees. From there, Keever used plant hormones to promote rooting.
The shoots were kept in a greenhouse with misting irrigation systems, regulated temperatures, and close to 100% humidity. Once the trees were old enough, they were potted and moved outside. Horticulture experts then continued to carefully care for the small trees, ensuring they grow straight and healthy. The oaks are watered three times a day.
Now, there are more than 2,000 genetically identical Toomer’s oak clones for sale for individuals who want a little piece of Auburn at home. The oaks range from about a foot tall to close to 3-feet tall. Buyers can come to the horticulture center and pick out their own tree. According to Keever, so far, close to 200 trees have been sold. The oaks are $125 each.
With the purchase of a Toomer’s oak tree clone, the buyer will receive a certificate of authenticity, information about the trees and instructions on how to care for the tree.
Auburn’s oaks are not suitable for all climates. The trees are native to coastal climates. According to Keever, he is aware of a Toomer’s oak seedling as far north as Nashville, Tennessee, but he believes these trees would not be able to handle a climate much more north than that.
“The Live Oak is a durable species. It’s very adaptable to different types of soils. Once you plant it, you need to water it and get it established, but after that it should be easy to take care of. Among our trees, it's one of the easiest to take care of,” said Keever.
Money raised will fund academic programs in the Department of Horticulture. Orders must be picked up on Thursdays and Fridays from 1-4 p.m. at the Paterson Greenhouse Complex at 450 Duncan Drive. To purchase an Auburn oak clone, please visit this website https://tpg.auburn.edu/ustores/web/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCTID=2227 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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