Ailing royal tree replaced

PR spot near Altas destroys hardy rubber tree after five years.
Photo Roelof Kleis

A dark hole gapes in the grass near Atlas, where the royal rubber tree used to stand until earlier this week. The Eucommia ulmoides was planted by King Willem Alexander and the then WUR president Louise Fresco in June 2018 on Wageningen World Wide Alumni Day. Of the key persons involved in the planting, only the king remains in office.

After Fresco made way for Heimovaara, it is now Eucommia’s turn. The tree is not dead but has been moved to a different spot, says Wageningen Campus park manager Elike Wijnheimer. ‘The spot near Atlas was chosen for its visibility and the room it offered for spectators, not for its great growing conditions.’


Favouring public relations has done little to benefit the tree. ‘Despite giving it the best possible care, the soil on the campus is unpredictable’, Wijnheimer says. ‘There are many impermeable layers, and you never know precisely where. Sometimes, there is no more than a few metres between a spot that will allow the tree to flourish and a spot where it will fail. It is like planting it in a giant pot from where there is no escape.’

‘We may want a tree on the campus, but most trees don’t like the campus’, Wijnheimer summarises. ‘The Eucommia appears to find itself in the pot situation.’ The tree has been replanted in the Amphitheatre near Zodiac. A more fitting tree will be planted in its place near Atlas in January.

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