How Do You Say Goodbye to a Tree?

The obit for Highland Park’s historic monarch pecan hasn’t been published yet, but the writing can begin.

(ABOVE: The Big Pecan Tree continues to develop deadwood. Photo by William Taylor)

Crews are unlikely to remove it in the next few weeks, but in a matter of months, town leaders should have a plan for cutting down the more than 150-year-old landmark at Armstrong Parkway and Preston Road.

“It’s going to be very emotional,” town administrator Bill Lindley said.

The town’s website,, identifies “The Big Pecan Tree,” as a true treasure and the site of the oldest community Christmas lighting in Dallas County. Civil War veteran Joseph Cole nurtured the plowed-over tree as a “testament to life” and to counter the destruction he saw during the war.

“We are not going to just chip the wood and be gone.” -Mayor Margo Goodwin

But the mammoth monarch – once listed as 75-foot by 75-foot – continues to decline, losing height and width as limbs die and its canopy shrinks.

“I think anyone in town who’s looked at it – anyone out of town who’s looked at it – recognizes it’s not what it was,” Lindley said.

In 2017, the town employed Preservation Tree Service to address the decline. The company applied fungicide and began a regime of seasonal deep root feedings. Crews removed the lawn from around it and fenced it to keep people from walking on the roots.

But Preservation Tree arborist Micah Pace concluded the tree wouldn’t get better.

“The tree is in severe decline, and I believe that is where it is going to remain until it is removed,” he said.

Town officials will look at options for lumbering the wood in hopes of using it to make podiums for the schools, commemorative pens, or other keepsakes.

“We are not going to just chip the wood and be gone,” Mayor Margo Goodwin said.

In the short term, the area where the tree stands would be sodded to let the community get used to the pecan’s absence. Eventually, town leaders could consider turning the area into a park or buying a replacement tree.

A nearby large tree, believed by some to be related to the landmark pecan, could serve as a “successor” in the annual December tree lighting.

William Taylor

William Taylor, editor of Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People, shares a name and a birthday with his dad and a love for community journalism with his colleagues at People Newspapers. He joined the staff in 2016 after more than 25 years working for daily newspapers in such places as Alexandria, Louisiana; Baton Rouge; McKinney; San Angelo; and Sherman, though not in anywhere near that order. A city manager once told him that “city government is the best government” because of its potential to improve the lives of its residents. William still enjoys covering municipal government and many other topics. Follow him on Twitter @Seminarydropout. He apologizes in advance to the Joneses for any angry Tweets that might slip out about the Dallas Cowboys during the NFL season. You also can reach him at [email protected]. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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