Science and technology are helping Oklahoma City to sustain the DNA and the spirit of a tree that has symbolised hope in the 24 years since the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in the US history shook the city to its core.
As part of an annual remembrance of the bombing, civic leaders and state officials on Friday transplanted a tree that was cloned from a scarred American elm that withstood the blast that leveled half of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.
The “Survivor Tree” features prominently at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, overlooking 168 chairs that represent those killed.
The intent of the DNA work is that the younger elm will replace the nearly 100-year-old “Survivor Tree” after it eventually dies.
“While we hope that tree lives forever; trees are like us,” said Kari Watkins, executive director of the memorial, which uses a rendering of the tree’s canopy in its logo.
The surviving tree’s eventual replacement was cloned by taking the rootstock of a young tree that sprouted from a Survivor Tree seed.
Nursery workers then grafted a cutting of the original tree onto the newer plant’s roots. The new tree was moved from a local yard to a specially designed area in a future park about a mile (1.6 kilometers south of the original tree.
Machinery can move a tree with a mass of roots measuring 25 feet (7.6 meters and haul it away to be replanted, said Mark Bays, a state forester. No one is sure when that might need to happen at the bombing memorial, but technology is only expected to