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Historic campus tree to be treated for pest on March 25

A local landscape pest management and tree care company will spray the historic “Bush” butternut tree with a pesticide on Friday, March 25 to control a small mite that causes leaf deformation and reduces the overall health of the tree.

The butternut tree, a type of walnut, is located on the west Capitol Campus not far from the entrance of the General Administration Building.

The tree is named for George Washington Bush, an African American freeman who with his wife and a group of other pioneers traveled west by wagon along the Oregon Trail and settled in the Tumwater area in 1845. Bush brought along a butternut sapling on his cross-country trip, which he planted on his farm. The farm is located near the Olympia Airport.

The state planted a butternut sapling in 2009 that grew from a nut that fell from the original tree. The original tree, thought to be the oldest living butternut in the United States at more than 170 years old, was badly damaged during a windstorm in September 2015. Even though it lost a large limb in the storm, the original Bush butternut tree is still alive.

The pesticide spraying of the campus butternut will be done between 8 and 10 a.m. but is weather dependent. The spraying will not be done if it is raining or there is enough wind to cause the pesticide to drift from the treated areas.

Wolbert’s Inc., the Olympia-based tree care company, will use a backpack sprayer to apply a pesticide to the dormant branches.

The foliar blister mite is a pest that damages plant tissue by sucking out the chlorophyll in sections of the leaf. This causes the leaf to become puckered and blistered looking.

The goal of the spraying is to reduce the mite infestation so the tree can continue to grow and thrive.

All areas sprayed will be flagged with treatment signs, in accordance with state law.

Spraying the Bush butternut tree is consistent with integrated pest management practices, which call for chemicals to be used only as a last resort. In the case of controlling blister mite on butternut, there is no effective alternative to the use of chemical pesticides and the tree might die if not treated.

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