AU updates condition of poisoned Toomer's oaks

The oak tree closest to College Street is showing signs of poisoning. (Source: Auburn University)
The oak tree closest to College Street is showing signs of poisoning. (Source: Auburn University)

AUBURN, AL (WSFA) - Auburn University continues to monitor the conditions of its famous oak trees located at Toomer's Corner. The trees, which are university landmarks, were poisoned with a lethal dose of the herbicide Spike 80DF in late 2010.

The University says that the oak tree closest to Magnolia Avenue is showing no symptoms of toxicity at this time. Leaves on its branches are sparse, though new shoots are appearing. Some parts of the foliage are dead, the university reported, but it's believed that's due to stress caused by a fire during the 2010 Georgia game.

The same hopeful news cannot be said of the oak tree nearest to College Street. More than 80 percent of the tree's canopy is showing symptoms of Spike 80DF's effects. The canopy is producing limited foliage, and the shoots that are appearing are smaller with yellowish leaves. Some shoots, though still alive, are not producing foliage at all.

Auburn says as the temperature rises it expects the leaves on the College Street tree to  become increasingly yellowish and brown before falling off. The tree will then attempt to replenish the leaves, but the herbicide remains in the tree's system and the same process can be expected again.

Spike 80DF's intended purpose is to kill vegetation, including trees, that grows along highways, railroads and other areas were officials do not want them to grow. It is designed with the specific task of blocking photosynthesis in the vegetation's leaves. Without photosynthesis the plant will ultimately starve to death.