Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden moves tree planted 75 years ago

A 75-foot Haldina cordifolia tree is relocated at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, one of the premier conservation and education- based gardens in the world and a recognized international leader in both Florida and international conservation, has successfully moved a 75-foot Haldina cordifolia tree, the only one of its kind in the United States, the only member of its genus (Haldina) and a member of the Rubiaceae family.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to witness the moving of this exceptional beauty which is among the largest trees in Fairchild Garden,” said Nannette Zapata, chief operating officer for Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. “This iconic tree is a treasured heirloom that will grace our grounds for many future generations to enjoy and cherish.”

After careful root pruning that took more than one year, the tree was moved success- fully to its new location within the Fairchild Arboretum, in anticipation of the ground- breaking of the new Rose-McQuillan Cultural Building. The process required two cranes and an expert tree transplantation team. Because of the size of the tree, it could only be moved as far as the crane could extend its reach. The foliage of the tree indicates that the canopy is still very dense, an excellent sign of tree health.

The tree was planted originally more than 75 years ago by David Fairchild (1869- 1954), one of the most famous plant explorers in history, from which Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden gets its name. It was collected by Dr. Walter Koelz, USDA, Beltsville, MD on Mar. 4, 1937, in Nilambur, Kerala, India. Previously known as Adina cordifolia, the tree is native to India, China (Yunnan) and the Malaysian Peninsula.

Dr. Fairchild was known for traveling the world in search of useful plants, but he also was an educator and a renowned scientist. At the age of 22, he created the Section of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction of the United States Department of Agriculture, and for the next 37 years, he traveled the world in search of plants of potential use to the American people.

Fairchild visited every continent in the world (except Antarctica) and brought back hundreds of important plants, including mangos, alfalfa, nectarines, dates, cotton, bamboos and the flowering cherry trees that grace Washington, DC.

After retiring to Miami in 1935, Dr. Fairchild joined a group of passionate plant collectors and horticulturists, including retired accountant Col. Robert H. Montgomery, environmentalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, County Commissioner Charles Crandon and landscape architect William Lyman Phillips. This core group worked tirelessly to bring the idea of a one- of-a-kind botanic garden to life, and, in 1938, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden opened its 83 acres to the public for the first time.

For additional information, visit online at www.fairchildgarden.org.


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