Communion Of Dreams


99.29%

I’ve written before (even recently) about the tree in the image at the top of this page. It’s locally known as the “Williamson Oak”, named after the family which owns the property where it grows. It is, simply, magnificent, and the oldest/largest such tree in the world.

And it is suffering from the drought which is having a devastating effect across the whole state and region:

The tree was starting to show signs of distress, Williamson said. “The leaves are beginning to curl up a little bit, and they have turned kind of brown. I think it has aborted a lot of the acorns. And the leaves turn upside down to keep from losing moisture.”

The ongoing drought didn’t get much worse in the past week, but things in Boone County and across the Midwest did not improve much either. According to the drought monitor report issued this morning, 99.29 percent of Missouri is in extreme drought or worse. The remainder of the state, a tiny sliver of the northwest, is only under a “severe” drought designation. More than one-third of the state, including most of Boone County, is designated as undergoing an “exceptional drought.”

Typically, the older a tree is, the deeper the roots it has. So older trees tend to fare better in severe droughts. And the Williamson Oak is in the Missouri River bottoms — the river’s natural flood plain, where ground water isn’t that far below the surface. In other words, this tree should have the best possible chance to survive this drought. Still, things are so bad that this was the image on our local paper’s front page last evening:

John Sam<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Williamson<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
releases<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
850 gallons<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
of water at<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
the base<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
of the<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
350-yearold<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
champion<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
bur oak<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
at McBaine<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Wednesday.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Six generations<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
of his<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
family have<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
owned the<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
land since<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
the 1830s.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Williamson<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
plans<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
to release<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
roughly<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
1,600 gallons<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
of water<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
around<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
the base<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
of the tree<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
each week<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
for the next<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
several<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
weeks.” /> <img src=
John Sam Williamson releases 850 gallons of water at the base of the 350-year old champion bur oak at McBaine Wednesday. Six generations of his family have owned the land since the 1830s. Williamson plans to release roughly 1,600 gallons of water around the base of the tree each week for the next several weeks.

Yeah, this drought is bad. The worst I’ve ever seen.

Jim Downey

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[...] written about the “Williamson Oak” previously, and specifically about the effects of last year’s drought on the [...]

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