The Champion Tree is located at the Jacksonville Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

The Champion Tree is located at the Jacksonville Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – At the Jacksonville Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, a beloved local hero has fallen.

One visitor expressed this sentiment: “It was absolutely devastating because this is one of my favorite spots here at the arboretum. People love to go back there and look at it, so we are very sad to lose such a historic tree.

Jacksonville Arboretum Executive Director Dana Doody shared insight into the tree’s demise, attributing it not to storms, but to the passage of time.

“Even through all the storms and everything, it was the old age that destroyed the tree,” Doody said.

What made this tree so special?

The tree’s importance lies in its status as a national hero. Dodi spoke in detail about the unique history of the tree.

“So, it’s a great nature story of coming back from the dark,” Doody said. First Coast News. “When the arboretum was being established, one of our board members, Lyd Hawkins, was scouting the property to lay pathways and came across the huge Gordonia Bay, or Loblolly Bay as it is called. So, as soon as he got there, he knew it was something special and submitted it for a national award. “It has these beautiful white flowers with a gorgeous yellow center and typically lives to about 65. I think this one has lived a very long time, and it’s been exposed to the elements in a lot of storms.”

Credit: WTLV

Interestingly, other trees of the same species on the property still compete for some of the largest trees in the country.

“Actually, yes. We’re looking at one of the trees on Sand Ridge Road that’s a Gordonia tree, which might still be in the running for national champion,” Doody said. “So, we’re exploring that now.”

What is the Jacksonville Arboretum and Botanical Gardens?

The Jacksonville Arboretum was established with the goal of providing a natural space for the community to enjoy and learn about Florida’s diverse plant life. Efforts to establish the arboretum gained momentum in the early 2000s with its establishment in 2008.

For those looking to explore more than just the trees at the arboretum, there are additional events to enjoy.

“Starting on Black Friday and running through December 29th, we’re going to have a show called Dazzling Nights, which is our holiday light show and it’s really amazing,” Doody said. “We are so excited to wear it for the third year in a row, it will be amazing.”

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