Orange Park hospital Magnolia grows into state, national spotlight

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 5/4/22

ORANGE PARK – A local hospital’s Southern Magnolia tree is not only gathering moss, but state and national recognition.

The tree, near one of HCA Florida Orange Park Hospital’s new medical …

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Orange Park hospital Magnolia grows into state, national spotlight

Posted

ORANGE PARK – A local hospital’s Southern Magnolia tree is not only gathering moss, but state and national recognition.

The tree, near one of HCA Florida Orange Park Hospital’s new medical office building, is the largest Southern Magnolia tree in the state and the third-biggest Southern Magnolia in the country.

Florida Forest Service Senior Forester Jon Johnson performed an official measuring of the tree for the first time in 10 years last week.

Not only is Johnson trying to assess the proportions of a magnolia tree an extreme test of measuring tape, but it also involves the bane of most high-schoolers and quite a few college students: trigonometry. However, the South is famous for its diverse plant life, he said.

“We find our special trees of each species throughout the country, I mean we’ve got one of the most diverse forests in the world,” Johnson said. “The Southeast just has some amazing forests.”

The tree is a bit off the beaten path. There are foundations of a house on the property and even an orange tree. The tree is visible from Kingsley Avenue and predates the road, Johnson added.

“It’s one of those idyllic trees. When you think of the South, you think of magnolias,” Johnson said. “That’s what this is, one of those iconic trees.”

Forestry Resource Administrator Sam Negaran said trees like the particular Southern Magnolia are a community resource. He said champion trees are measured every 10 years to verify their numbers. People take pride in having large trees with historical value, he said.

Negaran conducted the measurements of the same tree 10 years ago.

“It’s just a way to monitor, track and update any changes,” Negaran said. “We’re always on the lookout for champion trees. Our foresters are out in the community.”

Negaran said the tree’s size is commendable considering the development in the county.

“I think it’s a really great thing that (Orange Park Hospital) has decided to hopefully keep it, showcase it in years to come, take care of it and take the same pride any other landowner would,” he said.

As for preservation, Negaran and Johnson said the tree has been around so long with little support. It isn’t fighting with other plants for resources, Johnson said.

“It’s getting really no competition, “Johnson said.

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