What does it take to keep one of N.J.'s oldest oak trees alive?

In this article from New Jersey.com, Jerome Ocker, certified arborist for Davey's King of Prussia office, tells readers about the care and maintenance behind this old, historic tree. 

Posted: June 7, 2015 

By Kelly Roncace

There's a tree in Salem County that has seen more than 600 years of growth, change, and history - some of which took place directly beneath its branches.

The Salem Oak was purchased by the Salem Friends Meeting in 1681 along with a 16-acre parcel of land, according to Dave Culver of the Religious Society of Friends, Salem Monthly Meeting. The first two Friends' Meeting Houses were on the property before the current meeting house was built in 1772.

Local tradition says John Fenwick, who founded Salem, met with an Indian chief under that oak tree and signed a treaty declaring ever-lasting peace.

While the ancient tree has much historical significance, it has had its share of close calls.

"In 1999, we lost three limbs which was pretty significant," Culver said.

At that time, Culver contacted Bill Graham of Morris Arboretum - an expert on older trees - for help in maintaining the 600-plus-year-old tree.

"We found that old trees that survive do end up dropping limbs and become smaller so they can support themselves," Culver said.

So, Culver hired The Davey Tree Expert Company of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, to keep the Salem Oak in tip-top shape to survive a few more hundred years.

"We started pruning some limbs off to make it lighter and that has worked," Culver said. "We also did some more wiring to make sure the limbs are supported."

Jerome Ocker, certified arborist with Davey, said, during his first visit to the tree, he inspected all the cables, replaced 12, and added more where they were needed.

"On the paddle limb - the one reaching out toward the street - we cabled it to the ground and back to the tree to keep it from swinging in the wind," Ocker said.

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