'Charlie Brown' Tree Replaced at Clayton City Hall

Learn the history behind some of the foliage outside the downtown building, as described by public works director Michael Pratt.

On Tuesday, Mayor Linda Goldstein and members of the Board of Aldermen poured dirt onto the roots of a newly planted tree at City Hall. In an email, public works director Michael Pratt described the history of the downtown foliage and talked about why it was replaced.

More photos can be seen on the Clayton-Richmond Heights Patch page on Facebook.

After a lengthy and unsuccessful battle to revitalize the two pin oak trees on the Bemiston Avenue side of City Hall lawn, on March 10th the City’s forestry crew removed the diseased and potentially hazardous trees. The southern tree was 50 - 60% dead; and would have leafed out only about 30% this spring. The northern tree was one-sided, 25% - 35% dead and posed a shade threat to the beautiful and flourishing beech tree to its east.   

Both pin oak trees were suffering from the serious chlorosis disease which is caused by a lack of iron and nutrients and results in trees losing their strength, stability and beauty. Visible signs of this disease include yellowing of existing leaves, new foliage failing to form, and limb die-back. These symptoms steadily increased over the last 3 years. The City’s foresters attempted to combat the chlorosis disease by injecting the trees with various types of iron supplements and nutrients. The injections helped; but unfortunately this was only a Band-Aid--not a cure.       

In addition to removing the two pin oak trees, the forestry crew removed the spruce tree to the east of the southern pin oak tree. This tree had been in the City Hall lawn for more than 40 years; and was in a declining condition for at least the last 20 years. Staff referred to this tree as a “Charlie Brown” tree because of its lack of limbs and its unsightly appearance. After removing the three trees, which opened up the Bemiston side of City Hall, City staff received compliments about the beauty of the green-scape and the appearance of City Hall. 

On Tuesday March 27th at 6 pm, City officials will participate in transplanting a replacement tree between the location of the southern pin oak and spruce trees; in the same symmetrical location as the beech tree on the other side of the lawn. Putting in one replacement tree, will retain the openness and allow more sunlight to the existing flowers, evergreen trees, landscaping, and turf.  The replacement tree will be a 4 inch caliper European Beech. Its characteristics are:

  • A most attractive tree, dense, upright with an oval form   
  • Grows 50’ - 60’ high /  40’ span
  • Shimmering green when unfolding, the summer leaves are dark green, and fall foliage turns rich russet brown and golden bronze
  • In the same family as the beech tree on the north side of the City Hall lawn
  • A color picture of the tree can be seen online


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