Preserving John Muir’s Giant Sequoia Tree

This co-presentation will highlight a case study in heritage tree conservation through cloning, via a partnership between the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, CA and the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, a  non-profit propagation facility in Copemish, Michigan. Our presentation will discuss the practice of conserving biotic resources within historic cultural landscapes, and the science  of cloning significant plants through vegetative cutting.

Our presentation encompasses the themes of nature, science and culture using a case study to focus on the intersection between those themes. Listeners will gain insight into the mechanics of cloning from an expert in the field, including the challenges involved in getting viable material from old and very old trees. Listeners will also learn about the mission of the National Park Service to conserve America’s scenery, natural and cultural objects and leave them unimpaired for future generations. More to the point, why do we employ “heroic measures” to propagate historically significant trees as opposed to simply buying a new one.

Also part of this presentation is the concept of in-situ vs. ex-situ germplasm conservation and treatment of cultural landscapes. This project has generated interest in clones from botanic gardens in America and abroad, as well as some reservations from within the National Park Service about reintroducing a clone of a Giant Sequoia tree back into the wild. And despite the wonderful success of cloning this ailing Giant Sequoia tree, does it make sense to replant with an identical clone once the original tree perishes, or would a more resilient species be a better choice? These questions will hopefully generate lively debate among the audience.

David MilarchDavid Milarch is a nurseryman, conservationist, author and founder of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, whose mission is to propagate cuttings from superlative champion trees and replant them throughout the globe to sustain and improve life on earth.



Keith ParkKeith Park is a horticulturist and certified arborist for the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, CA. Keith holds a BS in Environmental Horticulture from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and an MS in Historic Preservation from Goucher College in Towson, MD.

Read an LA Times article about this topic

Read a San Jose Mercury News article about this topic






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