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Arborists Clone Lady Liberty, Majestic 2,000-Year-Old Tree

posted: 12/29/15
by: Danny Clemens
Lady Liberty tree in Florida
Jake Milarch/Archangel Ancient Tree Archive

The superior genetic material from a 2,000-year-old tree will live on, thanks to the work of a conservation organization that aims to create a living library of exceptional old-growth flora.

Located in Florida's Big Tree Park, Lady Liberty is among the oldest trees in the United States. On Monday, arborists from the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive scaled the 89-foot bald cypress tree to collect fresh samples of her genetic material.

The cuttings will be nurtured until they are large enough to be replanted, at which point Archangel will reintroduce them to Big Tree Park. In addition, 20 samples will be distributed to elementary schools throughout Florida.

"We believe that this tree is something special. Throughout time, it has seen droughts and disease, and over time it has acquired or developed the DNA to withstand those things," explains Archangel's Jake Milarch in a blog post.

Until recently, Lady Liberty stood mere feet from The Senator, a 125-foot bald cypress that was believed to have been 3,500 years old. The Senator was inadvertently set on fire in 2012, and emergency responders were unable to extinguish the flames before the tree was destroyed.

Related: Half of Amazon Tree Species Face Extinction

Should Lady Liberty meet a similar, untimely fate, her time-tested genetic material will live on.

Based in Copemish, Michigan, the nonprofit Archangel Ancient Tree Archive archives and propagates iconic old-growth trees throughout the world. The organization currently operates reforesting projects in seven countries, with hopes to launch five new international projects next year.

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