Who DOES That?


I was horrified to hear this story on NPR about about a rare Keteleeria evelyniana that was cut down in Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum, presumably for use as a Christmas tree. Really?  This is someone's idea of a tree farm?

It's a kind of scraggly, strange tree, the kind of thing only an arborist could love, but they'd been nurturing it along for the last ten years.  The arboretum estimates it might be worth $10,000.  It was planted, in part, so that it could someday provide seed to China if that ever became necessary.

Horrible.  Shameful.  Let us all now think evil, vicious thoughts about the tree thief. In the spirit of the season and all.


  1. We’ve had problems locally in recent years with folks cutting the evergreens from public landscaping – even from inside freeway cloverleafs ! – for Christmas trees. Have even had a few cut a few feet above the ground, leaving behind, at best, a stumpy trunk & a few lower branches.

    Hard to say if this speaks to desperation, poor sense of humor, or a flat-out Grinch-y attitude.

  2. I heard the same on NPR … really sad! I am not sure if this is due to the economy or how the tree was used but no matter it is horrid! If the tree gives joy to someone for Christmas … well that would be something but the tree is gone forever now. Too much pressure is put on people for the celebration of this holiday … there are truly those without but someone might have cut this tree to sell it … then the question arises … for food… for drugs! A permanent end for a temporary solution. So many questions arise… so much angst.

  3. Sadly it doesn’t surprise me, people will steal anything and I bet more than one gardener here has a tale of plants being stolen/damaged. It must be very disheartening for the people who’ve been caring for it for the last decade.

  4. I read this in the Seattle Times last week and almost threw up. What kind of moron/idiot/sad excuse for a human would do that???? I’m sure they had no idea it was rare. The Arboretum doesn’t protect its specimens under lock and key, why should they have to? But I guess if it’s worth that much, maybe they will have to think about where they plant the next one, if they ever have one that is. Ugh.

  5. What?!?!? ACK! If someone went into my yard and cut down my Cashmere cypress or any other rare tree I was growing, I think I’d be out for blood. That is beyond rude. And how the hell did someone CUT A TREE DOWN IN AN ARBORETUM? Didn’t the person walking in with the bow saw/chainsaw tip off anyone? Unfortunately, shame would be wasted on who ever cut it down. Anynoe who goes to an arboretum to cut down a Christmas tree has no sense of decency to begin with. Why not just walk into a park with a sod cutter and re-sod your lawn?

    Anyone put up a reward to catch who did this?

  6. It was reported on Tree enthusiast group I belong to (PGU) that the Arboretum doesn’t have a perimeter fence, so it was easy to access undetected… Patrick

  7. It is a sad statement of the times we live in, when someone kills and steals from an arboretum. My son is being taught to respect ALL living things, that includes plants, trees, animals and humans. I know we will have a few bumps in the road as he is only 11, but he is already on the right path. I can only shake my head at this person and wonder how their Mother would feel if she knew what they had done.

    I hope that a new tree can be located and they have the chance to capture and store seeds. It sounds like they may need some for themselves as well.

  8. Even in our little, protected school courtyard, we’re instructed to “mark and label anything you want to keep”. I’m not saying the arboretum is at all to blame, but I’m curious whether there was a small sign or anything there identifying the tree?

  9. Cutting down trees in parks and arboretums is a fairly common problem, especially in college towns. The Arb in Ann Arbor, MI, is located near student housing and every year finds decapitated conifers.

    The person who cut down the rare Keteleeria probably thought it was a misshapen pine tree that no one would miss.

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