A 110-year-old Eucalyptus tree in the Royal Botanic Gardens died and had to be removed after suffering an arson attack on October 22. Local NGO, Friends of Botanic Gardens of Trinidad and Tobago (FOBG), blamed the incident on “young vandals” and described it as “sad news”. The update came via two posts to their social media pages today.
Initially, the group posted two photographs to their Facebook page showing the destruction of the beloved tree which they say was planted around the year 1910. In these photographs, smoke can be seen billowing upwards from the charred tree trunk as two firemen attempt to out the flame.
Four hours after the first post went viral, FFOB updated the public once again letting them know that the centenarian tree did not survive. They posted photographs showing the tree being excavated from its spot towards the perimeter of the Garden, just opposite the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain.
“Eucalyptus tereticornis” which is the scientific name for the species, is a fast-growing, evergreen tree that is native to eastern Australia and southern New Guinea. Its leaves are also known to produce a volatile highly combustible oil, which may have contributed to the effectiveness of the arson attack.
In an interview with Cari-Bois News earlier this year, Patricia McGaw, a founding member of FOBG, spoke of how the Royal Botanic Gardens came to acquire such a diverse collection of plants over its two century’s of existence.
“The Superintendents in charge of the Gardens were botanists and gardeners. They travelled all over Trinidad on horseback collecting plants,” she said.
She also explained that they visited other West Indian islands and Central and South America to collect and exchange plant material and information – as the centre also engages in research and development of agricultural crops.
The eucalyptus tree stood five metres from the entrance guard booth and was also very near to the President’s House raising questions about national security.