Oldest tree was here before city’s founder

Measuring 202 inches in circumference and at an estimated 193 years of age, the Silver Maple in the front yard of Patricia and Louise Bartusek at 211 First Ave. SE was judged to be the Oldest Tree in New Prague.

Bruzek Funeral Home and Trees Plus sponsored the Oldest Tree in New Prague contest as part of the city’s sesquicentennial celebration. With the many entries, it was learned that there are still plenty of trees in the area that were here when Anton and Clara Yackly Philipp arrived in the New Prague area in 1856.

Using measurements from nomination forms submitted by the public, the judges used growth rate tables drawn from the International Society of Arborculture. All trees were measured around the trunk at 4 1/2 feet above the ground.

The Bartusek tree was judged the oldest using those growth factor calculations. Other old Silver Maple trees were located at 104 First Street SE, in Noreen Seurer’s front yard (155 years old) and on the west side of the 9th fairway at the New Prague Golf Club (152 years old).

A 140-inch circumference Burr Oak was located at Cedar Lake Farm, but a 134-inch Burr Oak was the largest oak tree found in the city limits. The tree, estimated to be 171 years old, is located just west of the 198th green at the New Prague Golf Club.

The oldest Sugar Maple entered in the contest was a 112-inch circumference tree located in the yard of Victoria Hanson at 604 Vrtis Lane. This tree is estimated to be 178 years old. However, only a block away, in an undeveloped lot at 701 Seventh Street NE, owned by Tom Topka, there is an old hard maple that measures 120 inches around, and is estimated at 191 years of age based on the growth factor calculations.

Honorable mention goes to the Cottonwood tree found in front of the home at 201 First Ave. SE, in the yard of Shirley Zehnder. That tree measures 193 inches around, but because Cottonwood trees grow so rapidly, it is estimated to be only 123 years old.

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