Redbud lore and myth

Trees, like most things, live as long as theyíre permitted to live. The question remains about who makes that decision.

In the case of the Fairfield Redbud, it seems unclear on when the process began and exactly why it ended.

My research has been limited to a few curious bits and pieces of information, fueled by my own sense of logic. I have come to one conclusion:

This tree was old and somebody realized it.

Naturally, it didnít start out that way, but with the help of Gayther Plummer, we can impart the knowledge that the thing was probably planted, either by a person or by nature, around the turn of the century. (That would be the last turn of the century, not this most recent one.)

Gaytherís picture (posted here) suggests the tree was fairly old even in the early 1950s. LouAnn Mott claims her father Grayden Luker planted it. That doesnít seem likely, though it is likely Grayden was important to the installation of the fence that surrounded it. I have no proof of that, but it seems likely, or at least possible.

I have no idea if the tree simply died of old age or was cut down when the reservoir work began.

Best guess: The tree was at least 60 years old.

How old is that in tree years?


Gayther has his own idea, which makes way more sense than mine.

My guess, John, . . . . . . is that the tree was discovered while the road was being built. A lot of "virgin" timber grew in the 1930s (WW2 took most of that). Knowing the site as it was, no road was there until 101 was dug-in. No one had much reason to climb that hillside other than to hunt. In the '30s the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC-bureaucracy) renovated parks, built trails, open campgrounds, etc. They were cognizant of unusual vegetation, especially big trees.

The chief botanist in Indiana at that time was a pharmacist, in Bluffton, who published thick books on trees, grasses, ferns, and the huge Flora of Indiana. I believe he would have been consulted by the Indiana Department of Conservation (at that time), or the highway department, about the unusual characteristics of that redbud. He had a redbud in his botanical garden that he planted in 1932 (I saw it in '53); and it was about four inches in diameter.

The fence around the Fairfield Redbud was constructed exactly like those the CCCs built in all the state parks where I was employed as a Naturalist for several summers. So some State bureau, or CCCs, put up the fence, possibly in the very early '40s -- I first saw the fence about '46-'47, I think -- sometime after the war.

Here is another "tale" to float around.