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Butternut breaks record

Tree in Parsons is largest in W.Va.

June 9, 2012
By Joe Hoover Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

Parsons is the official home of the largest known Butternut tree in West Virginia.

City officials are working to establish a small park around the tree in order to afford residents and visitors a comfortable opportunity to admire its stature, as well as to protect the tree from damage.

Fred Sakarsky of the Parsons Tree Committee said the tree is on city property, and city leaders hope to draw attention to it.

Article Photos

The Inter-Mountain photo by Joe Hoover
Parsons’ Tree Committee member Fred Sakarsky stands next to West Virginia’s largest known Butternut tree May 31 in Parsons.

"(It's) something really worth looking at it. We want people to be able to come here and enjoy the tree," Sakarsky said.

The city already has taken steps to improve the area around the butternut, however, construction supplies still clutter its surroundings. Hopefully, the project will be near completion by the end of the summer, Sakarsky said.

The tree, which is registered in the West Virginia Big Tree Database, has a circumference of 16 feet, a height of 75 feet and a crown spread of 105 feet.

In addition to the pleasant space the park will foster around the tree, the protection it will afford is vital, because butternut trees are becoming increasingly scarce.

Throughout the eastern United States, the butternut's native habitat, members of the species are being decimated by the butternut canker, a disease that typically kills butternut trees within several years.

City Council member Tim Auvil said Parsons' tree is particularly important because it potentially can be a source of healthy seeds, from which new trees can be grown.

Sakarsky, who collected seeds from the tree last year, said he already has several small starts that he will plant at Tucker Valley Elementary Middle School.

"I do some of the landscaping at the school, and I think it would be really nice to have descendants from this tree growing up there," he said.

Aware of the harm caused by the canker, Sakarsky hopes to contribute to the survival of the species, as well as Parsons' giant.

"It's really a magnificent tree. We should do everything we can to protect it and bring attention to it," he said.

Contact Joe Hoover by email at



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